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282 W?2ca 59-02215 

Williams, Michael fi'5.7'; 


>.J. Kenedy. U958J 



ODD! 03D77Q0-4 

The Catholic Church in Action 



in Action 


With the collaboration of JULIA KERNAN 

Completely revised by ZSOLT ARADI 


Nihil obstat: EDWARD J. MONTANO, S.T.D., Censor Librorum 
Imprimatur: tFRANCis CARDINAL SPELLMAN, Archbishop of New 

The nihil obstat and imprimatur are official declarations that a book or 
pamphlet is -free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained 
therein that those 'who have granted the nihil obstat and imprimatur agree 
with the contents, opinions or statements expressed. 

The Library of Congress has catalogued this book as -follows: 

Williams, Michael, 1878-1950. 

The Catholic Church in action, by Michael Williams, with 
the collaboration of Julia Kernan. Completely rev. by Zsolt 
Aradi. New York, P. J. Kenedy ^1958^ 
350 p. illus. 22 cm. 

i. Catholic Church. 

Full name: Charles Michael Williams. 

BXi75i.W58 1958 282 58-5790$ 

Library of Congress 



WHEN, in 1934, the first edition of this book was pub 
lished, most of the world was at peace. Although the signs of an 
oncoming storm were numerous and many voices were raised to 
prophesy the line of future developments, no one could have fore 
seen the real nature of the changes that were to take place in 
twenty years. Now we know that these twenty years were prob 
ably the most explosive and eventful years in the history of man 
kind. They have brought changes and germs of future changes 
which, both in a relative and an absolute sense, have surpassed those 
of any other similar period of human history. 

It was not alone the second World War that brought about 
these changes although no one would deny that this was the 
major cataclysmic event but through the inscrutable will of Prov 
idence and the never-ceasing curiosity and research of the human 
mind, certain principles in the realm of technology as well as in 
the realm of ideology reached maturity during those fateful years. 
Their seeds, sown in the course of previous centuries, were to bear 
unpredictable and often terrible fruit. 

It is now commonplace to call our era the atomic age. When 
the first edition of this book appeared the atom played no role in 
history nor had thought been given to the nature of the moral 
questions it would raise while other technological discoveries 
have offered notable changes and improvements in the conditions 
of man's material existence. In the international sphere the United 
States was a powerful nation but did not yet occupy the leading 
position that it does today. Russia was already under Communist 
rule but no one dreamed that the Red bloc would one day extend 


from the Elbe River in the heart of Europe to Shanghai and the 
Bering Straits, imprisoning eight hundred million people. This 
book was first published as Hitler's star began to rise and to many 
minds the major threat to mankind was expressed in the sign of 
the swastika. Twenty years ago the League of Nations was con 
trolled by the European Powers and represented but few of the 
peoples of Asia, Africa and the Pacific area. Many of these same 
peoples are now independent. India is no longer a colony nor a 
dominion of the British Empire; Pakistan is a separate nation; 
various countries in Africa have achieved or are on the road to 
sovereign statehood. It is not the Dutch who rule Java, Celebes and 
the neighboring islands; a new empire, the United States of Indo 
nesia sprang into being almost from one moment to another. The 
end of colonial rules that lasted for centuries is reflected in the 
present composition of the United Nations. More than twenty new 
nations are represented there which have come into being in the 
last twenty years. 

One would expect that the upheavals in the scientific and politi 
cal worlds would have had a corresponding influence upon the 
Catholic Church, since time changes man and man changes his 
institutions. In the case of the Church, however, the changes, how 
ever far-reaching they may be, may not be compared with those 
that have transformed the world. While new theories in govern 
ment, in physics and chemistry have shaken our concept of the 
material world, the changes in the organization and methods of the 
Church do not touch her essence and constitution. On the other 
hand, since she is a living organism, administered by man, the 
Church accepts and has accepted throughout the centuries the ele 
ments that she needs or judges useful for her growth and action: 
scientific and technological discoveries, political forces and ideas 
or social institutions, principles and activities. The changes she has 
made within her organization serve only one purpose: to reach the 
souls of men of all continents and all races, affirming, in the words 
of Pope Pius XII, "the moral nature and destiny of man and pro 
claiming the disciplines she must keep to achieve that destiny" 
(Allocution to the Tenth International Congress of Historical Sci 
ences, Sept. 1955). 

It is with these things in mind that the reader is asked to ap 
proach a work dealing almost exclusively with the organization of 
the Catholic Church. Its scope and purpose are set forth in the 


Foreword to the first edition and need not be repeated here. The 
present editor, as were the authors of the original book, is fully 
aware that the Church's organization is but a framework, the part 
of the foundation of a building that is at present visible to us. 
Like them, he is equally aware that interest in the Church as an 
organization is not new even on the part of those who do not ac 
cept the fact of her divine institution and the supernatural charac 
ter of her mission. 

Adolf Harnack, the great German philosopher, wrote in the 
nineteenth century: "The Roman Church is the most comprehen 
sive and the vastest, the most complicated and yet . . . the most 
uniform structure . . . history has produced. All the powers of 
the human mind and soul, all the elemental forces at mankind's 
disposal have had a hand in creating it." Whereas some have seen 
the Church as a museum-piece, slowly emptying of life, down 
through the years other intelligent men, without considering them 
selves obliged to modify their opinions according to her teaching, 
have regarded the Church as a pillar for the conservation of order, 
a model of government and social cohesion, a pattern for educa 
tional and philanthropic enterprise. 

In our day a tribute to the Church's efficiency as an organiza 
tion is contained in the summary of the findings of the American 
Institute of Management published in January 1956 for the benefit 
of its members "in order to determine ... just what administra 
tive lessons might be learned from the Church's nineteen centuries 
of varied problems and remedies." After an eight-year study 
which, it may be noted, was not obstructed even in the Vatican 
itself where as elsewhere the information sought was freely given, 
the conclusion was that out of a possible 10,000 points 1 for effi 
ciency the Church must be accorded 8,800, when 7,500 would 
have been enough to earn the rating "Excellent." For instance, 
under the heading of "Social Function" the Institute gives the 
Church a thousand points out of a possible thousand; under "Oper 
ating Efficiency" 650 out of a possible 700; under "Administrative 
Evaluation" 1,100 out of 1,200. 

On no less than thirty-two counts it is declared that the world 
has much to learn from the Church. These include the benefit of 

x The report states: "This point system of management evaluation has 
been developed by the American Institute of Management as a comparative 
guide; the values should not be regarded as statistical measures." 


long training and slow promotion; the importance of doctrine for 
insuring continued unity of thought and action, even where there 
is decentralization; the benefit of promotion from the ranks; the 
importance of using the knowledge and power of older men in 
staff capacities; and "the advantage of realizing that a monetary 
reward by itself has never been a great motivating force for man's 
best activities." There is also in the Church, says the Institute, an 
understanding of "the long-term importance of selling or persua 
sion by demonstration or example rather than aggressive pressure." 

On the other hand, the report of the Institute of Management 
is not uncritical, and from the point of view of administration 
adverse comments are made on the Church's management of fiscal 
affairs insofar as no sort of audited accounts are published by ec 
clesiastical authorities and no reserve funds provided for deprecia 
tion; also on the inept handling of affairs on the front of informa 
tion and publicity. Reference is made to the lack of staff work and 
research at the Vatican. In quite a different field criticism is made 
of a lag in artistic taste, and in both the zeal and intellectual stand 
ing of members of the Church; also of the proliferation of minor 
Catholic publications without concern being shown for standards 
or the maintenance of their aims. 

With some of the deductions and conclusions of this report a 
Catholic can agree and not with others. But it cannot be denied 
that in this case an honest effort appears to have been made to give 
from a practical viewpoint an evaluation of the Church's organiza 
tional efficiency, as well as some background for an understanding 
of her aims and problems. Still it should be kept in mind that there 
are many who, far from wishing to be adversaries of the Church, 
see only her human side and who misconceive her nature, see 
ing only her human greatness. To quote from one eminent writer, 
"As soon as essentials are misconceived, the wrong turning is not 
very distant. We no longer understand the Church at all if we see 
in her only her human merits, or if we see her as merely a means 
however noble to a temporal end; or if, while remaining believers 
in some vague sense, we do not primarily find in her a mystery of 
faith. Under such circumstances the very things admired in her 
are denatured, and her praises are mere vanity if indeed they do 
not become blasphemies." 2 

2 Henri de Lubac, The Splendor of the Church, New York; Sheed & 
Ward 1956, pp. 157-8. 


Illustrative of the varying attitudes of which we write were the 
evaluations of The Catholic Church in Action on its first publica 
tion. In the Protestant press they ranged from The Churchman's 
opinion that "it produces a sense of wonder at the vastness, effi 
ciency and sagacity of the organization in the non-Catholic and 
attracts or rouses opposition, according to the reader's type of 
mind and temperament/' to the Presbyterian Banner which carries 
this interesting observation: "One businessman said to another that 
Standard Oil is the greatest organization in the world. To which 
the man addressed said: 'There is one greater, the Catholic Church 
this book proves it.' " 

The Neiv York Times, Neivsiveek, the London Times and 
other papers hailed the book as the first comprehensive, informa 
tional account of the subject in the English language. A review in 
the New York Herald Tribune stressed the fact that the non- 
Catholic readers will "find , . . the careful and accurate descrip 
tion of the whole corporate thing as it moves in the affairs of 
men." The Masonic Digest said: "Truly to understand the power 
and influence of the Church it is necessary to comprehend it as a 
functioning operation. Up to the present time there has been a sad 
lack of operative data on the subject. Now this lack is remedied." 

The Catholic Universe of London pronounced the book "quite 
the best account that has hitherto appeared of the work of the 
Church on the administrative side"; The Sign "a veritable fund of 
knowledge"; the Jesuit weekly America considered the central 
section of the book "as intensely interesting" and as providing 
"knowledge which is difficult for the average reader to get and 
even more difficult for him to assemble into a coherent body." The 
crux of the matter would seem to be summed up in the following 
terms expressed in The North Carolina, Catholic: 

"One has sometimes heard non-Catholics speak with admiration 
of the wonderful organization of the Church, attributing to that 
organization all her power and success as if there were nothing else 
to be considered. Every Catholic knows, from experience and from 
his own soul, that this is anything but the case; the Church is 
strong, and does the work she does, not, in the first place, because 
of her organization, but because of the one faith upon which that 
organization, from first to last relies. More than any material or 
ganization is the Mystical Body of Christ; were the first to be 


destroyed the second would still go on, and the work of the 
Church would still be done. 

"Nevertheless, that her organization is indeed something ad 
mirable, and that its intricate machinery works with a smoothness 
beyond that of any other government, no one with the least ex 
perience of it will deny. . . . The volume before us is an admi 
rable exposition of that machinery, clearly arranged and shown in 

Since The Catholic Church in Action first appeared many 
excellent works have been written on one phase or the other of 
the subjects treated in its pages. But so far as we know no attempt 
has been made in the intervening years to set forth all the matter 
contained in it in one volume, and from many quarters pleas have 
been received for a revised edition. 

The editor of this revised edition has followed the arrangement 
of the original work, supplying amplification where necessary be 
cause of developments or changes that have taken place since its 
publication. New material has been added on various accounts. In 
the chapter on "The Modern Popes" the facts of the life of Pius XI 
from 1934 to his death in 1939 have been supplied; outstanding 
events in the life and activities of the present Pope, Pius XII, have 
been added. The chapters on the Cardinals and the Roman Curia 
as well as on the Church's diplomatic service contain new elements, 
changes, directives, issued during the past twenty years. While the 
chapter on the structure of the hierarchy has remained untouched 
in its main outline, social problems and needs and new pastoral 
methods adopted since 1935 have made necessary the amplification 
of the chapter on "The Parish and the Parish Priest." 

In Asia and Africa, due to the Communist seizure of control in 
various countries and exaggerated nationalistic influences in others, 
conditions in the mission field have been drastically altered. In 
many areas the Church's work is hampered where it has not been 
almost completely annihilated. The Church has also suffered the 
loss of many bodies of Uniate Eastern Catholics to atheistic perse 
cution or forcible reunification with the churches of Eastern Or 
thodoxy. These matters have been dealt with in the appropriate 
chapters and a new chapter has been added on "The Church in 
Communist-Dominated Countries," which, in lieu of a review of 
the rapidly fluctuating events reported by press services, seeks to 


show the over-all pattern of Communist policies and behavior to 
ward the Catholic religion. On the other hand, within the Church 
the new conditions for the work of religious orders and the rise of 
a new concept of religious life embodied in the Secular Institutes 
have necessitated additions to the chapter on the subject. The same 
can be said of the section on the liturgy and its changes. Additions 
have been made to the chapter on education, and, in view of many- 
changed conditions if not concepts, of the section on Catholic 
Action. To the bibliography many more recent titles have been 
added; for a few others that have been superseded by more com 
prehensive or authoritative treatments or by new editions, substitu 
tions have been made in a given area. 

New York, January 30, 1958. 



Part i: Rome The Center 













Part ii: The Church Throughout the 













7 1 











IN THIS book an attempt is made to describe briefly and 
accurately the main outlines of the organized system by means of 
which the Catholic Church carries on its work in the world today. 
Only the most elementary summary of this tremendous subject is 
possible within the limits of a single volume, not meant for ecclesi 
astical students, but for the average reader, whether Catholic or 
non-Catholic, who would like to know in a general way how the 
Church is constructed and how its various parts are put together 
to function within the framework of the institution as a whole. 
There are a multitude of works, ranging from the most profound 
theological,, historical, and scientific studies of the universal 
Church, or of its various parts, down to the most elementary 
pamphlets, but so far as we know, there is no other book in Eng 
lish which provides the average reader with a non-controversial, 
general account of the whole subject. 

It is a non-controversial account in the sense that its authors 
(or perhaps its compilers would be the more accurate designa 
tion) make no effort to prove or to defend the fundamental, 
spiritual, moral, and intellectual teachings of the Church. These 
teachings are simply stated, or reported, when and where their 
statement is necessary for the reader to grasp the meaning, the 
purpose,, the end of the operations of the Church as an entity, or 
of any particular department of its intricate organization. 

There are at least two good reasons for believing that a book 
like this is likely to be useful today and in the years immediately 
ahead of us. There is, first of all, the interest created by the steadily 


increasing activities of the Catholic Church throughout the world 
and, secondly, the still more important fact that the effects and 
consequences of these activities are not confined to the avowed 
members of the Church, but are also affecting profoundly the 
whole human society of which Catholics form a comparatively 
small minority, yet a highly important one because of the social 
consequences of their beliefs as taught and controlled by a world 
wide, centralized organization, by far the oldest and most deeply 
rooted of all human institutions. . . . 

That the Catholic Church is, to say the least, certainly one of 
the major forces of the world even if it only represents, as its 
enemies believe, a declining and baseless superstition is generally 
admitted. Its own claim, of course, is that it is incomparably, 
uniquely, the supreme spiritual power in all the world. As we 
have already stated, it is not the purpose of this book to argue for 
the truth of this claim. Yet in order to make comprehensible even 
an outline sketch of the mechanism by means of which the Catho 
lic Church attempts to realize this claim, it is necessary to give a 
brief definition of what is meant by the term, "the Catholic Church 
in Action." Upon that definition each and every item of the multi 
tudinous activities of the Catholic Church absolutely depends for 
justification by the believers in the Church, and for correct under 
standing by others. 

First of all, then, by the term "the Catholic Church" we mean 
that visible society, real, one, and actively at work in the world 
today, which was established by Jesus Christ nineteen hundred and 
thirty-four years ago. Furthermore, we mean that visible society, 
real, one, and clearly present before the world today, which is in 
communion with the Apostolic See of Rome, and which accepts 
not only the supremacy of that See, but also the infallibility of its 
occupant, the Pope, when, as shepherd and teacher of all the faith 
ful, he defines a matter of faith or morals. 

In continuance of this attempt at description of what a Catho 
lic means when he says that he believes in his Church we say that 
we mean, by the Catholic Church, that visible society, embracing 
all sorts and conditions of mankind, which claims and exercises 
divine authority and which says, as she has said since the beginning 
of her history, and which Catholics believe she will continue to 
say until the end of time: "I alone know fully and teach adequately 
those truths which are essential to the life and final happiness of the 


human soul. I alone am that society wherein the human spirit re 
poses in its native place; for I alone stand in the center whence all 
is seen in proportion and whence the chaotic perspective of things 
falls into the right order. Mankind cannot feed itself for that is 
death at last. I alone provide eternal sustenance from that which 
made mankind. The soil of my country alone can fully nourish 
mankind. Here, in me alone, is reality. For I alone am not man- 
made, but am of divine foundation and by my Divine Founder 
perpetually maintained." 

Many readers will, no doubt, recognize in the above paragraph 
a paraphrase and also a direct quotation from a lay historian and 
interpreter of the Catholic Church, taken from the first chapter 
of Hilaire Belloc's book, The Catholic Church and History. His 
words form the clearest and most forceful expression of what 
Catholics believe about the Church that is likely to be found out 
side of the strict theological definitions. 

To this definition of the living reality of the Church there 
should be added a secondary yet essential consideration for the 
purposes of this book, as follows: 

The Catholic Church, unique and supreme as it is at least in 
theory in its spiritual and moral and intellectual claims, is in one 
respect, however, in exactly the same position as any other society 
or organization of men formed to deal with other men, governing 
over or cooperating with other societies. Like these other societies, 
it must possess its material physical structure, its instruments and 
appliances; and it must also have a due order and practical system 
among all its parts in a way which will be adapted to its own pur 
poses. In other words, it must have, like any purely secular organi 
zation whether governmental, educational, or business its direc 
tors or rulers, its committees and sub-committees, its affiliated 
organizations and groups. It must have its own offices, its buildings, 
its vehicles of communication; and it needs constantly the use, if 
not the actual possession, of all necessary means by which to gain, 
hold and employ the practical apparatus of its work. 

With this conception of the Catholic Church in mind, we shall 
be in a better position to understand the actual organization of the 
mighty machinery of the Church, as it functions day by day in 

M. W. 
New York, May i, 1934 

Part One: 

Rome The Center 











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ROME, the capital of the Roman Empire at the time 
about the year 42 when the Apostle Peter there established his 
seat, has ever since occupied the position of capital of the Catholic 
world. It is not the teaching of the Church that visible, tangible 
possession or occupancy of Rome, or any part of Rome, is abso 
lutely necessary to her existence or functioning. The Pope would 
still be Bishop of Rome, and hold and exercise all his spiritual rights 
as such, even were he physically resident in Africa, or Asia or 
America, as some future Pope may be. Natural reasons for ex 
ample, an earthquake that might destroy Rome and cause the 
submergence of its area in the Mediterranean Sea might compel 
the removal of the physical center of the Catholic Church. An 
obliterating attack by atomic weapons, or political reasons, such 
as the complete success of an anti-Catholic revolution, might 
produce the same effect. 

At one time in its long history, indeed, a succession of Popes 
resided and ruled the Catholic world from Avignon in France. 
Political reasons explained that episode in the Church's history: 
briefly, the ambition and compelling power of the French mon 
archy. But as those reasons were not of the absolute character of 
the hypothetical ones mentioned above the physical destruction 
of Rome, or permanent banishment of the Church by a govern 
ment powerful enough to accomplish such an act the Avignon 
interval was regarded as a great misfortune by the more en 
lightened Catholics of that time, and was finally remedied by 
the efforts of a long line of devoted children of the Church. All 


the Popes of the so-called "Babylonian Captivity" at Avignon, 
however, were still the Bishops of Rome. 

Nearly two thousand years of practically continuous associa 
tion of the supreme head of the Catholic Church with Rome, be 
ginning with the living and the deaths by martyrdom there of the 
Apostles Peter and Paul; over three hundred years of persecution 
and martyrdom, culminating in the conversion of the Roman Em 
pire to Christianity; followed by all the mingled glories and mis 
eries, triumphs and defeats, of the centuries which followed that 
of Constantine all this creates an atmosphere and the ties of 
myriad sacred traditions which mark Rome as the visible center 
of the Catholic Church. Today, the Church seems securely seated 
there; more so, indeed, than seemed to be the case a century ago. 

The State of Vatican City 

From the time of Pepin the Short (751) until 1870, the Pope, 
in addition to his role as head of the Catholic Church throughout 
the world, and as Bishop of Rome, was also the temporal ruler 
of a part of Italy. The new Kingdom of Italy, after the military 
attack on Rome on September 20, 1870, deprived the Sovereign 
Pontiff of his temporal rights, property and independence, and for 
nearly sixty years refusing the terms of settlement proffered by 
the State he remained virtually a prisoner in the Vatican. In 
1929, Italy by the Lateran treaties again gave formal recognition 
to the Pope's status as temporal sovereign and created Vatican City 
as a civil State, and although the territorial limits within which the 
Pope exercises his temporal, in so far as it is separated from his 
spiritual sovereignty, is now limited to the narrow space of forty- 
four hectars or approximately one-sixth of a square mile, he is 
nevertheless a sovereign in the strictest sense of international law. 

The State of Vatican City is, then, in the temporal order, as 
much of an international sovereign personality as Great Britain 
or the United States of America. Indeed, the Holy See has always 
contended that it possessed this personality, and we can cite here 
the fact that between the annexation of the Papal States in 1870 
and the recognition of the sovereignty of the Pope by the treaties 
of February n, 1929, no less than twenty-nine temporal Powers 
had diplomatic agents accredited to the Holy See and resident 
within the Vatican, to show that in the opinion of twenty-nine 
world Powers, the Pope, even without title to his territory, was a 

Peter's City 5 

sovereign to whose court diplomatic agents could be sent and 
actually were accredited. 

John Brown Scott, an eminent authority on the law of nations, 
in addressing the American Society of International Law, shortly 
after the signing of the Lateran treaties in 1929, defined the mat 
ter in this way: "There can be no doubt that the Pope is a sov 
ereign . . . elective, it may be, but absolute in the exercise of his 
powers. The extent of territory has nothing to do with sover 
eignty, any more than the stature of the sovereign with the ex 
ercise of his admitted rights. As Vattel has put it in a telling 
phrase, 'A dwarf is as much a man as a giant is.' There is, there 
fore, no limitation of sovereignty, if sovereignty can be limited, 
because of the restricted territorial sphere in which its powers are 
to be exercised." 

In addition to jurisdiction over the territory within the bounds 
of Vatican City as determined by the Lateran treaties of 1929, the 
Pope has certain extraterritorial possessions within the City of 
Rome and in other parts of Italy. In these he enjoys, as regards 
the Italian government, the same diplomatic and fiscal immunities 
as embassies and legations in any other foreign capital and they 
are governed by his authority. 1 

Shortly after the signature of the Lateran agreements, Pope 
Pius XI promulgated the "fundamental law" of Vatican City, stat 
ing in its Article I that "the Sovereign Pontiff, sovereign of the 
City of the Vatican, has full legislative, executive and judiciary 
power therein." This provision did not greatly change the exist 
ing order of things; the Pope continued to exercise what he had 
always claimed temporal as well as spiritual sovereignty over the 
territory of the Vatican and those members of the papal household 
who surrounded him. Thus, now as before, the Pope is the only 
authority over the members of his court, his prelates and officers 
and others whose permanent residence in Vatican City has been 
approved. This is also true of the Swiss Guard, the Noble Guard 
and the Palatine Guard, and other functionaries necessary for the 
proper dignity and administration of the property of the Holy 

So long as the Pope's temporal sovereignty over the Vatican 
was contested by the Italian government, the Holy See was ham 
pered in passing legislative measures binding over even his most 
1 For a description of these extraterritorial possessions see Ch. II, pp. 28-32. 


intimate collaborators in the government of the universal Church. 
This abnormal condition was done away with in 1929, when the 
head of the Church pronounced as sources of the laws governing 
the new State of Vatican City: a) the Code of Canon Law and the 
Apostolic Constitutions; b) the laws promulgated by the Sover 
eign Pontiff for the City of the Vatican or by another authority 
delegated by him, as well as those regulations legitimately pro 
mulgated by competent authority. 

Certain laws originally promulgated by the Kingdom of Italy 
are still in effect in Vatican City because, after examination, they 
were found in harmony with the papal intention and because the 
Pope willed their continuation in force. In June 1929, the Pope 
passed a new penal code for Vatican City and certain other stipu 
lations not included in the Italian Civil Code, but of special ap 
plication to the conditions of government prevailing in Vatican 
City. In accordance with these provisions, civil justice can be and 
actually is exercised in the papal territory. 

Italian is the official language of Vatican City, as distinct from 
that of the Holy See which is Latin. The national colors are white 
and yellow. Automobiles bear the special license plate SCV 
Stato della Citta del Vaticano. 

It is also well for us to know that all the collaborators, func 
tionaries and servants of the Pope are not necessarily citizens of 
Vatican City but all citizens of the Vatican are directly or in 
directly by their spiritual attributions, or their temporal duties, 
attached to the service of the Pontiff. The cardinals of the Curia 
have an exceptional status in this respect. It is sufficient for them 
to reside in Rome to become citizens of the State of Vatican City, 
since it would not be suitable for the chief collaborators of the 
Pope in the administration of the Church to be submitted to any 
other jurisdiction than that of its head. 

The other citizens of the Vatican are, with their families, 
"those who reside in a permanent manner in the City of the 
Vatican, for reasons of dignity, charge, office or employment, 
when this residence is prescribed by law, or by a regulation, or 
when it is authorized by the Sovereign Pontiff, or in his name by 
the Cardinal Secretary of State, if it is a question of persons at 
tached in any capacity whatever to the pontifical court or to any 
office mentioned in Article 2 of the fundamental law of the City 
of the Vatican or else authorized (always in the name of the 

Peter's City 7 

Pope) by the governor, in the case of other persons" (Law on the 
Right of Citizenship and Sojourn in Vatican City, Art. I). 

Thus, the right of citizenship and residence in Vatican City is 
identified with the service of the papacy; it is because of their 
association with the sovereign of Vatican City that the citizens 
of Vatican City have been granted their citizenship. 2 It follows 
that certain regulations are in effect there that would not apply 
to any other State. For instance, no societies or associations may 
be formed within these limits except such as are established by 
canon law; authorization is necessary for a public meeting, to 
carry arms, to set up a printing press, for the right of reproduc 
tion by photography or other processes of all objects within and 
without the Vatican, to offer to the public, even gratuitously, 
printed matter, statues or other objects. All sorts of vendors are 
absolutely forbidden to exercise their trade in these precincts. A 
guide or interpreter may offer his services only after receiving a 
special authorization. 

Property and buildings in Vatican City may not be acquired 
or transferred without special permission; neither can they be 
changed or improved without the same permission. Goods and 
provisions may be introduced into the papal stores for the benefit 
of citizens only and without duty. These citizens, who inciden 
tally pay no other taxes and live rent-free, are at liberty individ 
ually to make purchases outside Vatican City, but they must, in 
this case, pay the duties imposed by Italian law. No shop, studio 
or commercial or industrial enterprise may be set up in Vatican 
City without authorization. 

According to the Lateran agreement, the Governor of Vatican 
City to whom the Sovereign Pontiff confides the duty of ad 
ministering these regulations is a layman, named by him and re 
sponsible to him, a citizen of the City and obliged to reside 
therein. He appoints and supervises the various Vatican employ 
ees and in general exercises great powers calling for high moral 
qualities and integrity in the incumbent of this position. In ex 
treme cases, the Governor of Vatican City may have recourse to 
the Holy Father and to the Rota, but his main counselor in his 

2 At present an unofficial estimate of the population of Vatican City 
places the number at 1,088 persons. These are drawn from some fifteen 
nationalities and among them the military (Swiss Guard, Noble Guard, etc.) 
outnumber the civilians; the majority of the civilians are clergy. 


administrative duties is the personage known as the "general 
counselor of State." He, too, is appointed by the Pope and must 
give his advice each time it is requested by the Holy Father or 
the Governor; especially must he be consulted when it is a ques 
tion of passing new laws or regulations for the government of 
Vatican City. This general counselor need not necessarily reside 
at the Vatican or be a citizen thereof; he is a layman. 

After the death of Marchese Serafini, the first Governor of 
Vatican City, Pius XII did not appoint a successor, but placed all 
these matters in the hands of a Pontifical Commission for the 
Government of Vatican City which he created on March 20, 
1939. The commission is composed of two cardinals and two lay 
men to whom the Pope has delegated all powers regarding the 
administration and government of the Vatican State, and every 
administrative, economic, fiscal and military problem is screened 
by them. This commission is sometimes familiarly designated by 
the name of its presiding officer, Cardinal Canali, a most important 
member of the Curia. 

The international rights and duties of the Vatican as a sov 
ereign State are also carefully regulated by the Lateran agreement. 
According to its provisions the neutrality of the Vatican State is 
absolute and perpetual and its territory is neutral and inviolable. 
It can engage in no international activities save those with peace 
ful aims; it is obvious that it must abstain from any acts that 
could lead to its participation in war. In other words, it cannot 
make or join offensive or defensive alliances. However, it is de 
clared that the Vatican State is entitled to use measures for self- 
defense in case of attack, and it has reserved to itself the right of 
making its moral and spiritual power recognized by peaceful 

Let us see how the provisions of the Lateran treaties became 
operative during World War II. The Italian government had as 
sumed a solemn obligation to respect the "total and absolute free 
dom" of communications to and from Vatican City. Article 19 of 
the treaty says that diplomats and envoys of the Holy See and 
envoys of foreign governments to the Holy See as well as dig 
nitaries of the Church coming from abroad should be able to pro 
ceed to the Vatican through Italian territory. These provisions be 
came effective when Italy joined the Axis and declared war on 
France and Great Britain (June 10, 1940) and later on a number 

Peter's City 9 

of other Powers. It was thus possible for the Holy See to exercise 
its spiritual ministry all over the world while war was raging in 
the immediate neighborhood of Rome and even in the city itself. 
Even during the most critical periods of the war, diplomatic 
couriers and envoys of the Vatican were able to travel undis 
turbed to and from Rome. 

When in the course of the war Italy lost her independence and 
Rome was successively occupied by German and Allied troops, 
the right of the Vatican to freedom of communication was ob 
served by the occupying Powers. A most dramatic instance of 
this occurred when King Victor Emmanuel III dismissed Mus 
solini and appointed as premier Marshal Badoglio whose task it 
was to prepare an armistice with the Allies. This armistice was 
signed on September 8, 1943, but could not be put into effect be 
cause the German army at once seized and occupied Rome. The 
frontier between the Vatican State and Italy is the line that con 
nects the two ends of the colonnade of St. Peter's Piazza. This 
border was immediately occupied by German parachutists, and 
the Salvatorian monastery, situated on the left side of the present 
Via della Conciliazione, became one of the stations of the German 
security policy. Did the Pope become a prisoner? The answer is 
no. The Vatican's freedom of communication was maintained and 
the extraterritoriality of the buildings belonging to the Vatican 

In addition to the right to freedom of communication during 
World War II, the Vatican also exercised the right of asylum. 
After Italy's declaration of hostilities against the Allies, the rep 
resentatives of governments at war with Italy moved into Vati 
can City and lived there unmolested until the Allied troops en 
tered Rome on June 4, 1944; at this point, on the other hand, the 
representatives of the Axis Powers in Rome moved into the 
papal city. Also during the war period not only the territory of 
the Vatican but the buildings enjoying extraterritorial rights out 
side were filled with political refugees. The Holy See protected 
the politically persecuted regardless of their ideology and at one 
point could be seen the paradox of several important leaders of 
the Italian Communist Party hiding in Rome under the protection 
of the Pope while in Milan Cardinal Schuster tried to save Mus 
solini from capture by their henchmen. During the German oc 
cupation particular activities were carried out by the Holy See 


and by Pius XII personally to save the Jews of Rome, and we 
know that these met with a large measure of success. 3 

Throughout the war Pope Pius XII conducted constant nego 
tiations with foreign governments for the protection of Vatican 
territory and the city of Rome against bombing. When Italy en 
tered the war he asked the British and French governments not to 
bomb Rome. The French response was immediate and favorable 
to the request; the British made conditions and did not commit 
themselves. When the United States entered the war the Pope 
made the same request to that Power and in December, 1942, as 
the danger grew, he tried to have Rome declared an open city. 
These papal negotiations continued but without result, and on 
July 19, 1943, Rome suffered a massive air raid by Allied planes 
which, in an attempt to strike at railroad yards, destroyed the 
Church of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, severely damaged Verano, 
the main cemetery of Rome, and inflicted hundreds of casualties 
in the Piazza Bologna. Immediately after this bombardment 
Pius XII left the Vatican and visited the sites of the destruction, 
giving aid, material as well as spiritual, to the population; and he 
publicly protested the air raid in a letter addressed to the Cardinal 
Vicar of Rome and published in UOsservatore Romano, the daily 
.newspaper of Vatican City. 

T> , Rome was bombed for the second time on August 13, 1943, 
aAd after this bombardment Pius XII sent a diplomatic note to 
tlhe governments of Great Britain and the United States deploring 
the fact and again asking for the protection of Rome. As the bat 
tle approached closer and closer and it became evident that Rome 
could become the center of the decisive struggle between the 
German and Allied armies, the Pope did everything possible to 
save the Eternal City. It was on his initiative that two neutral 
governments approached the belligerents in this sense, Ireland 

3 The lives of thousands of Jews were saved, and to this end Rabbi 
Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome and an eminent Hebrew scholar, held 
countless conversations with the Vatican. After the liberation, Rabbi Zolli 
announced his decision to become a Catholic in an eloquent farewell sermon 
delivered before his congregation of the Jewish synagogue. He was baptized 
under the name of Eugenio, the baptismal name of Pope Pius XII (Eugenio 
Pacelli). Even after his conversion Dr. Zolli continued to enjoy a high meas 
ure of esteem from his former religious community, and became professor 
of Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Rome. He died in 


Peter's City 

making representations to the government of the United States 
while Spain approached that of Germany. Nevertheless the Ger 
man Ambassador to the Holy See suggested that the Pope should 
leave the city. Pius XIFs answer, delivered at an audience given 
the Ambassador on February 5, 1944, was that he would never 
abandon Rome. 

Not only did the Pope use all the diplomatic and moral powers 
at his disposal to save Rome, but he was also active in requesting 
from the German and Italian governments assurances that Cairo 
and Athens should be spared. He likewise tried to save Warsaw, 
and on general lines condemned any act on the part of the bel 
ligerents that was directed against defenseless civilian populations. 

The independent status of the Vatican and the freedom of its 
communications made it possible for the Pope to continue his ap 
peals for peace throughout the war, and this not only on the diplo 
matic level, but through speeches and proclamations delivered 
over the Vatican Radio. 4 In addition the Holy See took the initia 
tive in setting up a vast organization for locating prisoners of war 
and missing soldiers and civilians of all countries. The seven years 
of activity of the Vatican Information Office are almost legendary. 
This office was first organized in September, 1939, when the Holy 
See asked the German government for lists of Polish prisoners of 
war. When no answer came, the Holy See compiled the lists from 
information supplied by the bishops. From this moment on the 
papal nuncios and the apostolic delegates in various countries set 
up special offices to receive information which was forwarded to 
the Vatican, and thus the Holy See was able to answer the nu 
merous inquiries regarding the whereabouts of missing families 
and individuals, soldiers and civilians. The central office, inside 
the Vatican, employed about nine hundred people for this pur 
pose, and between October, 1939 and June, 1946, received some 
ten million requests for information about missing persons. Using, 
in addition to the help of the papal nuncios, the facilities of the 
Vatican Radio, of the couriers and postal services, the Holy See 
was able to get news and bring news from and to prison and 
internment camps all over the world, including Australia, South 
America and Japan. To obtain this information the Holy See was 
continually involved in most delicate negotiations with govern- 

4<w PH. TV. "The Modern Popes," pp. 55-7. 


merits, including that of Soviet Russia. In 1940 the Pope also made 
an effort unfortunately unsuccessful to arrange an exchange of 
all prisoners of war taken up to that time. 

The enumeration of all the benevolent operations of the Vat 
ican during these difficult war years would be endless. We might, 
however, mention that one-third of the movable art treasures of 
Italy were transported to the Vatican and thus saved for pos 
terity. From September 8, 1943, until June, 1944, Italian com 
munications leading to Rome were paralyzed because of the con 
tinuous bombing of the roads and railways leading to the city. 
During this time almost the entire population of Rome was ac 
tually fed by the Pope whose convoys of trucks day after day 
provided the necessities of life for a population that otherwise 
faced starvation. Such tasks as these for the relief of suffering and 
the preservation of lives and the treasures of civilization were 
made possible for the Vatican by its status as a sovereign, in 
dependent and neutral State. 

Small as is the extent of the area of territory of which the 
Pope is the civil as well as the spiritual ruler, practical experience 
has proved that the Church can function most efficiently when 
she possesses that absolutely separate and independent corporate 
status described by Pope Pius XI at the time of the signing of 
the Lateran agreements as "the little body that is needed for the 
sustenance of the soul." Should this sustenance be denied her, the 
Holy See could still continue to function, even if badly handi 
capped, but it could not possibly exist merely as a temporal sov 
ereignty. The spiritual sovereignty of the Pope is recognized by 
Catholics all over the world; at the same time they recognize the 
temporal sovereignty of their own rulers. In Vatican City alone, 
and in the small territorial enclave attached to it, is the Pope the 
civil as well as the spiritual ruler. 

Rome, the Center of the Catholic Church 
The spiritual kingdom to which the Pope lays claim is not of 
this world, nor does it exist to serve the purposes of this world 
even its highest and worthiest purposes. However, it functions 
partly in this world and its organization is purely and simply an 
instrument or tool of the work of guiding and aiding souls during 
their passage through the conditions of time to the final end of 

Peter's City Z j 

attainment of eternal life. This, at any rate, in very rough and 
limited terms, is what Catholics believe. 

In subsequent chapters we shall examine the organization of 
the spiritual domain of the Papacy, the great spiritual sovereignty 
which flows from the City of the Vatican as a center, crossing the 
artificial boundaries of the States of the entire world in order to 
reach and govern in matters of faith and morals every man, 
woman and child belonging to the Catholic Faith. As the federal 
government of the United States is exercised from the District of 
Columbia (within which it exercises exclusive jurisdiction) over 
the forty-eight states of the American Union, the spiritual govern 
ment of the Catholic world is exercised from Vatican City by the 
Pope of Rome. The machinery which we find working here is 
probably the most far-reaching and perfectly adjusted human or 
ganization in the world. 

The center of the Catholic Church is, then, Saint Peter's and 
the Vatican: St. Peter's, the vast basilica, whose glorious dome 
rises toward heaven to point out to earthly travelers the burial 
place of the Prince of the Apostles, the first ruler of the Christian 
world; the Vatican with its innumerable halls, galleries, apart 
ments, museums, library and chapels, ornamented by the great 
geniuses of all times the residence of the Pope, the living suc 
cessor of Peter. Here Leo III lived in the days of Charlemagne; 
here in buildings erected during the fifteenth and sixteenth cen 
turies have dwelt all Popes of the modern age; here after the 
occupation of Rome by Victor Emmanuel II in 1870, three rulers 
of the universal Church lived out their days without once crossing 
the threshold; even the two most active of modern Pontiffs have 
rarely availed themselves of the change of civil status granted by 
the Lateran treaty to leave the boundaries of Vatican City. 

But nothing is more true than to say that all the world comes 
to the Pope and to Rome. Each year hundreds of thousands of 
persons of every race and station of life, non-Catholics as well as 
Catholics, penetrate the bronze doors, mount the Scala Pia, cross 
the Court of Saint Damasus, and by another and monumental 
staircase, reach the apartments of the common Father of the faith 
ful, into whose presence no one goes without emotion. We see 
him in the Vatican Palace, surrounded by his court, the pontifical 
family, from the greatest to the most humble: from the Cardinal 


Secretary of State, the Palatine prelates to the secretaries, the 
chamberlains, the biissolanti, the guards of every rank. In this 
Palace is permanently installed the Secretariat of State and the 
numerous dependent services; here come to report the cardinal 
prefects of the congregations; the bishops of the whole world; 
the ambassadors of nations, their princes and ministers; here flock 
pilgrims from every corner of the earth. 

Every sort of business is transacted at the Vatican: the busi 
ness of a State with multiple consequences in the temporal order; 
the business of intelligence, of souls, of truth, and of doctrine; 
the examination of questions of philosophy, theology and social 
order. From the Vatican are issued papal utterances of various 
types, some of them solely concerned with theological matters; 
many others dealing with the most difficult problems of today and 
of all time. All alike are based upon immutable principles, founded 
upon divine authority. From the tribunals of the Papacy thou 
sands of decisions are made, bringing to Christian souls certainty, 
peace and joy, or else fear and remorse, and sometimes revolt the 
possibility of which, however, is never flinched at when truth 
and justice are at stake. For Catholics believe that in Rome dwells 
that power which binds and looses not only on earth but in 
heaven, not only in time, but in eternity. 

The question may be raised that if the Church is concentrated 
whole in the successor of Peter, does not the entirety of Catholic 
life and doctrine reside only in the single person of its head, and 
has not the center absorbed all else? The answer is that it has not, 
that Rome has drawn all to itself that all might be unified and 
vivified; it is the center from which flows and to which returns 
the current of spiritual life. As one modern writer has put it: 
"We do not deny the existence of a circle when we know it must 
have a center; and it is no abolishment of the body when we say 
it has a head. 5 

The poorest parish or mission church in a remote quarter of 
an uncivilized land is an integral part of the Roman organization. 
It is never left to itself nor unprotected, nor does its existence de 
pend solely upon the apostolic zeal of a single priest, missionary, 
or group. It is at all times supported and guided from the center 
of the Christian world; should one of its ministers be removed by 
death or sickness, should he falter in the performance of his duties, 

5 Henri de Lubac, The Splendor of the Church, p. 201. 

Peter's City 

he is replaced by another and, if need be, by another the life of 
the Church goes on. 

It is true that the Communist occupation of many countries 
in Europe and Asia has put before the Church a new situation. 
While atheistic governments may permit churches to remain open 
and allow the faithful to worship in them, their fundamental laws, 
passed by a dictatorial minority, do not recognize the freedom of 
the human person and hold society and religion in bondage to the 
State. Their purpose is to do away with any independent eccle 
siastical organization and to corrupt the Church from within by 
appointing bishops of their own choosing. Every effort is made 
to deprive the hierarchy and clergy of these countries of contact 
with the Holy See; bishops are not allowed to go to Rome for 
their ad limna visits and papal directives sometimes do not reach 
them. Nevertheless the Catholics of these countries consider 
themselves still in union with the Holy See and the bonds that 
tie them to Rome are stronger than ever. Confronted with the 
successes, threats and claims of the Communists, the Christian 
finds a tremendous reserve of power in the axiom "God loves 
nothing better than the freedom of his Church," and the Church 
is seen with increasing clarity as the one effective guarantee of 
spiritual liberty. 

Since the very beginning of Christian history, Rome has drawn 
to itself the spiritual and intellectual elements of the nations. 
Many countries have today in Rome their sanctuaries, their hos 
pices, schools, even sometimes their own quarters of the city. 
Thus we see the Orientals, the Syrians, the Egyptians, the Greeks 
at the foot of the Aventine, on the way to Ostia, along the Tiber: 
Ripa Graeca, Ecclesia Graecorum, Schola Graecorum. Already in 
the eighth century, national hospices were built about the Vat 
ican to house the pilgrims to Rome. The Franks built their church 
to Saint Petronilla, near which Charlemagne erected the Schola 
Francorum. From that time forward almost every nation of the 
earth joined the march on the Holy City and established there a 
national representation. Montaigne said of Rome that it was "the 
metropolitan city of every Christian nation. Spaniard or French, 
each is at home here. To be a prince in this State, one has only 
to be a Christian, from where it does not matter." 

In modern times, governments and their rulers are represented 
at the Vatican by their ambassadors and ministers. No less than 


forty-two of these representatives are at present resident in Rome, 
and the Holy See has in turn sent to foreign capitals forty-one 
nuncios, not counting the "apostolic delegates" who do not have 
diplomatic character (as in the United States). 

To protect themselves from schism and heresy, to strengthen 
their allegiance to the Holy See, Catholics throughout the world 
have established in Rome national colleges and seminaries where 
the most select of their young ecclesiastics may absorb the doc 
trines and spirit of Peter and bring back to their native land the 
strength and integrity of Faith which they have drunk at the 
fountainhead of Christian knowledge. At Rome there is an Eng 
lish College as well as the Beda College for English converts study 
ing for the Catholic priesthood; a German-Hungarian College 
and a Hungarian Ecclesiastical Institute; two German or Teutonic 
Colleges; a College for Russians, for Maronites, for Scots, for 
Irish, for Belgians, for French, for Latin Americans and a separate 
one for Brazilians, for North Americans (U. S.), for Canadians, 
for seminary students of Illyria (Croatia), Poland, Armenia,' 
Czechoslovakia, Spain, Ruthenia (the Ukraine), Portugal, Hol 
land, Romania, Ethopia, etc. 

There are also in Rome the following Pontifical Institutes of 
graduate studies: the Gregorian University; the Lateran Athe 
naeum; the Urban College "de Propaganda Fide"; the interna 
tional institutes of the Angelicum and of St. Anselm; the Ath 
enaeum Antonianum; the Institute of Sacred Music; the Institute 
of^ Christian Archeology. Of all these the Gregorian University 
enjoys a privileged place; occupying since 1930 its splendid quar 
ters on the Piazza della Pilotta, its courses in ecclesiastical subjects 
are^ attended by more than two thousand students from all the 
national seminaries and universities in Rome. 

Moreover, forty-four religious orders and congregations have 
houses of studies in Rome and are represented there either by 
their procurator generals or superior generals themselves. Of the 
latter we may cite the Jesuits, the Benedictines (the Primate of 
fifteen branches of Benedictines resides at St. Anselmo on the 
Aventine), the Capuchins, the Carmelites, the Augustinians, the 
Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Redemptorists, the Servites, 
among many others. More and more, societies for the propagation 
of the Faith and mission bodies are making it their headquarters. 

We can easily understand the alarm of those outside the Cath- 

Peter's City 17 

olic Church who do not understand her divine and unearthly 
mission, when they see such a concentration of force and influ 
ence in Rome. They would be justified in their fears were this 
power to be placed in the hands of a man who was a man like 
others a Roman emperor or a dictator who could use this in 
fluence over consciences for his own aggrandizement or that of 
national interest. But the sovereign who reigns at the Vatican is 
not a man like other men. He knows that the visible chief shep 
herd does not put into eclipse the Good Shepherd, that he is but 
the delegate of the Judge by whom he will himself be judged, 
the Vicar of Christ on earth, and the successor of the humble 
Peter. At every hour he feels himself responsible for his steward 
ship before his own conscience, before men, and before sovereign 
Wisdom and sovereign Justice. He cannot forget that every one 
of his actions is fraught with eternal consequences for himself 
and for his flock. 


ACCORDING TO some authorities, the name Vatican is 
derived from the Etruscan town "Vaticum"; others hold that in 
very ancient pagan days the hill of the Vatican was part of a 
country district covered with farms, having on it a temple in 
honor of Divus Pater Vaticanus in which this god expressed him 
self in oracles or prophecies. It may be so; we cannot presume to 
decide when learned men differ on such points; but since it is 
certainly true that the Catholic religion has incorporated into its 
system many elements of earlier religions and ritual and cere 
mony and customs which it found to be in harmony with the 
truths revealed by Christ, it would be quite fitting that a place 
once dedicated to a local pagan religion should become the holy 
city of that universal religion which came into the world to unite 
mankind in the worship of the One God of all. 

St. Peter's Basilica 

However, that may be, for the first successors of St. Peter, as 
for the chief of the apostles himself, the Vatican hill was not a 
place for a dwelling, but a burying ground, a place of death. St. 
Peter was crucified in Rome toward the year 67, and his mortal 
remains interred by his followers in a simple ditch and without a 
coffin, just outside the Circus of Caligula in an area of the Vat 
ican hill where there were other tombs. Near him later was buried 
the body of the second Pope, St. Linus, likewise a martyr. Over 
the resting place of St. Peter, his third successor, St. Cletus, 

The Vatican 19 

erected a "memorial" or commemorative chapel, and near this for 
two centuries the tombs of the Popes were placed. 

During the first half of the fourth century the Emperor Con- 
stantine raised on this same site the first basilica of St. Peter, a 
magnificent construction with five aisles, where in the ensuing 
ages the most imposing functions of the Church were celebrated. 
A mortuary chapel was then built over the tombs in the crypt of 
the new basilica, and until very recently this chamber, exactly 
under the present high altar of St. Peter's, had been sealed since 
the time of Clement VIII (1592-1605), and for many years before. 
When, during the reign of that Pontiff, the altar was being re 
built, part of the pavement gave way and Clement, hurriedly 
summoned, was the last to see the tombs, for he was overwhelmed 
with awe and had the opening hurriedly closed with a thick layer 
of masonry. 1 

Pope St. Symmachus (498-514) made extensive enlargements 
to the Vatican in the early sixth century. He began by recon 
structing the Constantinian basilica, and adorning the atrium with 
colored marbles and 'mosaics; he replaced the primitive fountain 

1 The modern excavations under St. Peter's Basilica which brought to 
light the original burial place of St. Peter were started by Pope Pius XI. 
The work was resumed by Pope Pius XII in 1939 and continued for ex 
actly ten years, its results completely confirming the tradition according to 
which the sepulcher of the Prince of the Apostles is to be found under 
the main altar of St. Peter's. These excavations called for delicate and 
more than careful work, always determined by the architectural construction 
of the whole basilica and regard for the balance of the dome and the main 
altar pillars of the largest church of the world, since any mistake could well 
have been disastrous. The excavations were carried out under the direction of 
B. M. Apoloni-Ghetti, chief architect of Vatican City; of Enrico Josi, the 
authority on the catacombs, and of two Jesuit archaeologists, Fathers Ferrua 
and Kirschbaum. The diggings were made by specialized workmen called 
Sampietrini belonging to the Fabric of St. Peter's, an organization which for 
many centuries has provided for the maintenance of the basilica. 

Medals discovered near his burying place during the explorations proved 
that St. Peter's tomb has been venerated ever since the second century. It 
was also found that when Constantine's basilica was erected over the tomb of 
the Prince of the Apostles its builders had been forced to move great masses 
of earth to level the Vatican Hill for this purpose. For this reason the work 
of clearing the way to the Apostle's tomb was time-consuming and difficult 
and had mostly to be accomplished by workers using tools by hand. 

The report of the result of the ten years' excavations was published in 
1951. Contemporaneously with the work of the excavations, the crypts of the 
Vatican (Grotte Vaticane} were architecturally reinforced and rearranged. 
Pope Pius XII inaugurated the new grotto on June 12, 1950. 


of purification by the celebrated Pigna or pine-cone of bronze we 
still see spouting water from every leaf, but at another place in 
the court which bears its name. Pope Symmachus also caused an 
other fountain to flow in the Place before St. Peter's and restored 
the staircase leading to the new atrium. The same Pope further 
more restored the episcopal palace built by Constantine near the 
basilica and arranged quarters there for the Pontiffs and their 
entire suites, lodged since the time of Pope Melchiades in the 
Palace of the Laterani. Although succeeding Popes continued to 
regard the Lateran as their permanent residence, the plans of 
Symmachus were eventually incorporated into that immense mass 
of stone, bronze and marble, which we know as the Vatican 

No building in history has suffered the vicissitudes of the older 
St. Peter's; but after every wave of invasion by barbarous hordes 
and infidels,, the Popes returned to their work of expanding and 
embellishing the tomb of Peter. In 846 the basilica suffered a 
supreme tragedy. The Saracens assaulted Rome and where even 
Goth, Hun and Vandal had been restrained by fear and venera 
tion, they callously profaned the church of the Popes. The treas 
ures of centuries of piety were pillaged; what could not be 
carried away was destroyed. When the invaders had been repelled 
at Ostia, Pope Leo IV resolved to do all in his power to prevent 
the recurrence of the catastrophe and to enclose all of papal Rome 
within a powerful fortification. From St. Peter's Basilica to the 
Castle of St. Angelo he built a rampart forty feet in height, rein 
forced by many towers. From the Viale Vaticano we may see 
today the bastions of this ancient wall, and it was within the 
limits of the Leonine City, so called because of its Pope-builder, 
that the present Vatican City received its general outline. 

When after the exile of Avignon, Pope Gregory XI returned 
to Rome he found the Lateran, charred by fire and abandoned for 
many years, to be uninhabitable. He installed himself at the palace 
of the Vatican, which has since been the regular residence of the 
head of the Catholic Church and the permanent quarters of its 
government. The end of the Great Schism, or reign of the anti- 
Popes, coincided with the dawn of that remarkable period in art 
and learning known as the Renaissance; the present St. Peter's 
and the Vatican are the triumphs of the architecture of the time. 

It was Nicholas V (1447-1455) who dared to raze the Con- 


The Vatican 

stantine basilica then more than a thousand years old; its ancient 
walls had been rebuilt and strengthened countless times,, its dev 
astated altars raised again and again after each invasion of the 
barbarian. Here, in 800, Charlemagne had been crowned the Em 
peror of the Roman Empire, here Alfred the Great of England 
was anointed as a child (853) within our brief space it is im 
possible even to outline the history of the older St. Peter's. But 
even as early as 1450 the walls were bulging and it was obvious 
that drastic reconstruction was required. The actual rebuilding 
did not begin until 1506, but Nicholas V deliberated with his 
architects, Rosellino of Florence and Alberti, the plans of the new 
basilica and laid out its three great features: the great piazza with 
the central obelisk, the two campaniles, and the dome. The great 
humanist Pope, who although born in Tuscany of needy parents 
was one of the lordliest patrons of the arts that the world has ever 
known, did not live to see his magnificent projects put into ex 
ecution. It was Julius II, aided by the renowned architect Bra- 
mante 2 who inaugurated the work, and it went on for more than 
a century, the main part of St. Peter's and the fagade being com 
pleted in i6iz. In 1626 Urban VIII was able to dedicate the new 
St. Peter's where Bramante, Sangallo, Raphael, Michelangelo, 
Maderna and many others had displayed the best of their genius. 

A first view of St. Peter's is unforgettable; from the distance 
its dome built in two years by Sixtus V from the plans of 
Michelangelo floats like a bubble in the air. Seen at sunset, cov 
ered with a rose-colored light, the enormous mass has an un 
earthly aspect and resembles some immense triumphal arch. It is 
impossible to describe in a few words the grandiose proportions 
of this cathedral. Several large churches could be set inside it, for 
its surface area is 163,182 square feet; it is 651 feet long; its dome 
rises 435 feet above the ground; its columns number 777 and its 
altars 44. But were a church or other public building to be erected 
twice the size of St. Peter's, it still could not compare with it. 
Even from a human point of view there is no building that pos 
sesses one atom of its historical interest; its very walls are alive 
with traditions that go back to the days of the Apostles. 

When one enters St. Peter's the vast extent of the interior 
covered with marble and gold, the height of the cupola soaring 

2 It is now known that at this time Pope Julius II firmly opposed Bra- 
mante's project of moving the tomb of Peter from its original site. 


toward the infinite make one think for the first time within a 
building of a "view." The funerary monuments of the Popes are 
innumerable; the styles and schools of every age are represented 
in a profusion of precious materials. The cumbrous statues of 
Bernini have not succeeded in destroying the effect of harmonious 
grandeur and superhuman strength given to St. Peter's by Mi 
chelangelo. Within this gigantic framework are displayed the 
masterpieces of mosaic mounting to the very summit of dome: 
the flamboyant glory of the apse the cathedra of the Prince of 
the Apostles, the main altar with its high baldaquin of bronze, and 
wreathed columns ornamented by Bernini with the bees of Ur 
ban VIII, the Barberini Pope while the ever-burning ring of 
lamps around the Confession with its staircase leading to the tomb 
of the Apostle directs attention to the very cornerstone of the 

The Vatican Palaces 

If it is difficult to describe the glories of St. Peter's it is im 
possible even to enumerate the riches of the Vatican with its 
hundreds of rooms, art galleries, museums and chapels. As we 
know, the pontifical palace is a vast monument added to and em 
bellished by almost every Pope, consequently bearing the mark 
of many periods and styles but especially that of the Renaissance, 
After the return of the Popes from Avignon and the burning of 
the old Lateran palace, Nicholas V began the first important work 
in 1450 with the edifices of the Belvedere, the Chapel of the 
Blessed Sacrament, and the oratory decorated by Fra Angelico of 
Fiesole with depictions of the lives of two great martyrs, Stephen 
and Lawrence. Sixtus IV constructed the first Vatican library 
and the Sistine Chapel, enriched under Julius II with the famous 
frescoes of Michelangelo. From the age of thirty-three to thirty- 
eight, this great artist painted alone the great epic of humanity. 
It is told that when his task was completed he was so bent he 
could scarce descend from his scaffold, that he could no longer 
look at his feet, and that when he wished to read, he had to raise 
the paper above his head. When he was nearing sixty, he returned 
to the scene of his pain and of his triumph and spent six years 
in painting the Last Judgment on the end wall of the Chapel, 
that awe-inspiring conception depicting Christ with the elect on 

The Vatican 2? 

his right hand and at the left the damned precipitated into end 
less torment. 

The Sistine Chapel is the scene of the conclaves when the 
Popes are elected; on these occasions the red thrones of the car 
dinals are lined against the walls on either side. Here also the 
princes of the Church usually receive the red hat and take their 
oaths before the altar, under the great crucifix where the pale 
blood-drained Christ looks down upon them as they swear thence 
forth to serve Him "unto the shedding of their blood." 

At the end of the fifteenth century, Innocent VIII and Alex 
ander VI were renowned as "Pope-builders," the latter erecting 
the colossal walls of the part of the Vatican known as the Borgia 
apartments, painted with the frescoes of Pinturicchio. Julius II 
raised a vast marble wall all about the hill of the Vatican and 
joined the Belvedere of the Popes to the Pontifical Palace. Julius's 
successor, Leo X, appointed Raphael architect of the Vatican and 
under his direction the loggia of St. Damasus was completed; 
Paul III (1545) was responsible for the Pauline Chapel and that 
noble baroque chamber, the Sala Regia, designed by the architect 
Antonio de Sangallo. 

With Sixtus V (1585-1590) were completed the main lines of 
the Vatican as we see them today. He built the great hall of the 
Vatican Library, the wings of the courtyard of St. Damasus, and 
removed the obelisk of Caligula, weighing nearly a million Roman 
pounds, from the sacristy of St. Peter's (where it marked the site 
of Peter's crucifixion) into the center of the piazza before the 
basilica. Under Paul V (1605-1621), a member of the noble 
Borghese family, the Vatican assumed its definitive aspect, if we 
may so speak of a place where building has never ceased to go on. 

The conglomeration of buildings known as the Sacred Apos 
tolic Palaces now form a structure of over one thousand rooms, 
halls and chapels and twenty courts, all of which are connected 
with one another. The Vatican proper shelters many of the bu 
reaus and services of the papal organization which the Pope 
wishes to have near at hand of these we may mention partic 
ularly the Secretariat of State, the Congregation of Ceremonies, 
the Secretariat of Latin Letters, and the Apostolic Camera. 

The Pontifical apartment, properly so called, is located in the 
great palace overlooking the Piazza of St. Peter. Access is gained 


through the bronze gate and the Court of St. Damasus, where a 
large marble staircase, mounting to the first floor, leads through 
the apartment of the Cardinal Secretary of State up to the second 
floor and into the Clementine Hall. Here the Swiss Guards are 
constantly on watch at the threshold of the dwelling of the Holy 
Father. Then the visitor traverses ten or so halls the antechamber 
of the bussolanti, the hall where the Palatine Guard is on duty, 
the Hall of Tapestries, that of the Noble Guard, the Throne 
Room, the secret antechamber where a knight of the cape and 
sword and the commander of the Noble Guard are in attendance, 
finally three small rooms to reach the private library where the 
Pope gives his audiences. When the pilgrimages are large, the 
Holy Father receives in the Hall of the Consistory, the Royal or 
Ducal Hall, or in the Hall of Benediction, the latter an enormous 
chamber exactly above the portico of the Basilica of St. Peter, 
where as many as three thousand persons may be gathered at one 
time. It receives its name from the fact that from its central loggia, 
a newly-elected Pope appears before the populace waiting in the 
square below and gives urbi et orbi (to the city and to the world) 
his first benediction. 

With the signing of the Lateran treaties in 1929, a new phase 
of Vatican reconstruction began and has continued vigorously. 
In response to the enlarged responsibilities brought about by the 
legal restoration of the Pope's temporal power, Pius XI and his 
successor Pius XII have restored many of the most ancient parts 
of the Vatican Palace, 3 equipped the new papal State with every 
resource of modern science, and added many new buildings that 
profoundly modify the physical aspects of the Vatican. 

The ordinary entrance to the present Vatican City is through 
two passages at the southern end of the basilica of St. Peter. The 
first of the new buildings to meet the view is the Palace of Justice 
on the Place of St. Martha, a court for the judgment of suits com 
ing within the civil jurisdiction of the Holy Father for instance 
a theft in St. Peter's. 

The Palace of the Governor of Vatican City is a large white 
construction in brick and stone, of modern style with a fine ap- 

3 This restoration, carried out by the technical services of Vatican City 
in collaboration with the Vatican Museum, led to several discoveries, among 
them a new loggia of Raphael in the court of Maresciallo and many important 
works of art. 

The Vatican 25 

proach, facing the apse of St. Peter's. It shelters the administrative 
services of the Vatican State and a few princely apartments des 
tined for illustrious visitors; to it is annexed a private chapel with 
some good sculptures. 

Another white building not far away is the Vatican Railway 
Station, especially constructed for the reception of official visitors 
to the Vatican. It is a vast hall of honor in precious marbles, with 
two smaller halls to right and left, one for the pontifical court and 
the other for the diplomatic corps. The approach from within 
Vatican City is through a columned peristyle, ornamented with 
a large fountain, the arms of Pius XI crowning the fagade. The 
trains enter from Rome on a branch of the Viterbo line, passing 
through a gigantic bronze door, ordinarily kept closed. To the 
station is attached the garage of the Vatican, a cement structure 
for the motors belonging to the service (320 in 1955). 

At the other side of the City, in the old wall of Leo IV, we 
see the tower, ninety feet high and divided into three stories, 
which was formerly occupied by the Vatican observatory. This 
observatory was transferred in 1937 to Castelgandolfo, the popes' 
summer domain outside Rome, when Pius XI inaugurated a new 
institute of astrophysics and spectro-chemistry; only one instru 
ment remained on Vatican territory and this too was taken to 
Castelgandolfo in 1942. There has been a pontifical observatory 
since the end of the sixteenth century when a tower was built by 
Gregory XIII in connection with the work of the calendar reform. 
For succeeding generations and especially during the early part of 
the nineteenth century, the observatory was the scene of important 
meteorological observations. However, all this scientific work 
ceased at the fall of the Papal States in 1870. The observatory- 
was restored by Leo XIII, when, after twelve years in the papal 
chair, he received on the occasion of his jubilee some scientific 
apparatus of great value. At that time the Gregorian tower was 
found unsuitable for the more modern equipment, and the ob 
servatory was moved to the old Leonine tower, built in 848 as part 
of the fortifications against the Saracens. In resuming the work of 
the observatory Leo XIII declared: "The Church and its pastors 
have never held aloof from true and solid science, either in divine 
or human matters; on the contrary, they embrace it, they favor 
it and contribute to its progress with love, so far as it is within 


observatory has again become famous and it has been headed by 
scientists whose names are known throughout the world. 

Following along the old wall of Pope Leo, we pass the Grotto 
of Lourdes before arriving at a building of simple proportions 
atop the highest point in the Holy City: the Vatican Radio Sta 
tion, HJV, installed by Marconi at the request of Pius XI and 
inaugurated by that Pontiff on Feb. 12, 1931. Since then the voices 
of two Popes have rung out over the world on many historic 
occasions, bringing hope to war-torn countries and to millions in 
prisoned lands the strength to remain steadfast in times of trial. 
Besides providing the clergy and people, particularly those behind 
the Iron Curtain and in mission territories, with special transmis 
sions of papal messages and with news and features, the Vatican 
Radio gives on-the-spot reports of solemn occasions in the life of 
the Church. The ordinary service consists of daily broadcasts in 
twenty-eight languages, including Russian, Chinese and Latin, to 
which other languages are added on particular occasions; the daily 
broadcasting time is twelve hours, 7.30 A.M. to 9.30 P.M. The Vat 
ican Radio is under the direction of the Jesuits, and the announc 
ers are twenty Fathers of that order, each a specialist in lan 
guages. The Radio is also used for communications of the Vatican 
Post Office, and a subsidiary service provides Vatican City and 
St. Peter's Basilica with an adequate network of loudspeakers, 
microphones, etc. HJV has recently been reinforced by a power 
ful new shortwave transmitting station at Santa Maria di Galeria, 
some twelve miles northwest of Rome. Located on a two-hundred- 
acre tract which is now Vatican territory, a loo-kilowatt trans 
mitter is equipped with twenty-four Telefunken directional 
aerials, and a second medium-distance transmitter able to blanket 
the Mediterranean basin without interfering with other stations in 

A beautiful medieval building devoted to scientific purposes is 
the Casino of Pius IV, erected between 1558 and 1562 in a com 
bination of classic and baroque styles. Here in what was once a 
summer house of the popes in the midst of the Vatican gardens, 
the Pontifical Academy of Science has had its headquarters since 
1936. Its chief concerns are with physical and mathematical knowl 
edge; its membership, limited to 78, counts the names of well- 
known scientists, Catholic as well as non-Catholic, from many 

The Vatican 2 j 

The modern Pinacoteca of the Vatican, designed by Senator 
Beltrami, is built on the site of the old gardens, and is a rectan 
gular building in rose-colored stucco, its walls decorated with 
mosaics. Entirely lighted from above, its galleries contain the 
finest masterpieces of Giotto, Raphael, Titian, Da Vinci and other 
famous artists in the Vatican collection. Beneath it are studios for 
restoring works of art in accordance with the newest and most 
scientific methods. The treasures of the Vatican museums may 
scarcely be examined in a lifetime; their endless corridors form a 
great treasure house of the art of Egypt, Greece, Rome and other 
parts of the ancient world. 

The Vatican has its own post office and stamps. Letter boxes 
are found everywhere within the limits of the City. The special 
telephone installation is also modern in every detail. There is a 
papal store or Annona, where foodstuffs and other articles may 
be purchased for a very low price by the citizens of the Vatican 
(including the Cardinals of the Curia and religious who do not 
live within the limits of Vatican City). The City has its own 
greenhouses; a school for tapestry weaving and another for mo 
saic workers. 

Of undoubtedly the greatest interest to scholars, the Vatican 
Library was enriched under the pontificate of Pius XI by the 
addition of a new wing, new equipment, a new reading room, a 
card catalogue made in accordance with the rules of the American 
Library of Congress, and the reclassification and recataloguing of 
the Library according to the most modern methods. The interest 
of Pius XI in inaugurating a golden age for the Library was not 
difficult to understand. Himself one of the great scholars to oc 
cupy the chair of Peter, he was for some years prefect of the 
Vatican Library, and the impulse which he gave to the work in 
that office was multiplied many times during his reign and under 
his protection. 

In 1937 Pius XI created a photographic and restoration labora 
tory for the Vatican Library. In 1942 was begun in this laboratory 
the microfilming of important material in the Library, an enter 
prise initiated by the University of St. Louis, Missouri, under the 
sponsorship of the Knights of Columbus Foundation for the 
Preservation of Historical Documents at the Vatican Library. In 
1953 Pius XII approved of the erection of a memorial library in 
St. Louis which would bear his name. When completed this build- 


ing will house the entire collection of microfilms made in the 
Vatican Library about ten million individual photographs not 
counting those of manuscripts. The Vatican Library possesses 
sixty thousand manuscripts, seven thousand incunabula, seven 
hundred thousand other printed books and pamphlets, and one 
million maps and engravings. 

Papal Buildings Outside Vatican City 

As we have previously said, there are outside the limits of the 
City and in Rome itself various churches, universities and build 
ings containing offices of the Roman Curia which, under the 
terms of the Lateran treaties, are treated as an extension of the 
papal domain, and enjoy in international law the same extra 
territorial privileges as embassies in a foreign country, being 
exempt from expropriation or taxation by the Italian government. 

Chief among these is the historic Palace of the Propaganda 
near the Piazza di Spagna. It is occupied by the great missionary 
Congregation itself, having apartments for the cardinal prefect 
and the secretary, numerous offices and services such as the press 
service Fides, the headquarters of the Society for the Propagation 
of the Faith, the Society for the Aid of Native Clergy, and so on. 
Formerly, in the same palace, but now removed to the Janiculum 
hill, is the Urban College of the Propaganda for the education of 
several hundred young priests of every nation and country who 
are preparing themselves for a life of missionary labor. Beside the 
Urban College on the Janiculum are the buildings of the new 
North American College and several other important Roman col 
leges and religious houses. 

To continue the rapid enumeration of pontifical buildings hav 
ing extraterritorial status we find in the Trastevere quarter the 
Palace of St. Calixtus and the new palaces that now house five of 
the Sacred Congregations. The Palace of the Apostolic Chancery, 
one of the most majestic buildings designed by Bramante, and the 
office of the Apostolic Dataria, a more modern building, are on the 
slopes of the Quirinal. The headquarters of the Congregation of 
the Holy Office is situated on the very boundaries of Vatican City 
and is a building of exceptional historic interest. 

On the Via della Conciliazione, in the Palace of the Con- 
vertendi, is installed the Sacred Congregation of the Oriental 
Church. This palace originally stood on Piazza Scossacavalli in 

The Vatican 29 

the same area where the large Via della Conciliazione was opened 
by removing the buildings between Castel Sant' Angelo and the 
colonnade of St. Peter's Basilica. The Palace of the Convertendi 
was taken apart stone by stone, then rebuilt at its present site and 
its interior modernized. By eliminating the conglomeration of 
buildings, narrow streets and squares and the so-called historic 
Spina facing St. Peter's Square, a direct view was opened from 
the great basilica to the Tiber (Castel Sant' Angelo). The seat of 
the Cardinal Vicar of the diocese of Rome is the Palace of the 
Vicariate on the Via della Pigna. 

Those three splendid churches known (with St. Peter's) as 
the four major basilicas, visited by every pilgrim to Rome who 
wishes to gain the indulgence of a Holy Year, are equally the 
property of the Holy See. "Mother of all Churches" is the Lat- 
eran, seat for over a thousand years of the Roman Pontiff. St. 
John Lateran is still the cathedral church of the Pope as Bishop of 
Rome. For several centuries before our era, this magnificent 
domain was the property of the great Roman family of the Lat- 
erani. Confiscated by Nero in 313 it was given by the Emperor 
Constantine to Popes Melchiades and Sylvester, who, emerging 
with the Church from the dark passages of the catacombs, built 
the first Christian basilica in Rome, dedicating it to the Holy 
Saviour. With its adjoining baptistry and the Sancta Sanctorum, 
the ancient edifice was visited by every human catastrophe in 
vasion, pillage, earthquake and fire; but arose again and again 
from its ruins. The last restoration dates from the Renaissance, 
and Pope Sixtus V made it the object of his particular attention, 
building there in the abandoned Place of the Patriarchum the 
magnificent palace which was later to shelter the great papal col 
lection of pagan and Christian antiquities. Since 1927 it has housed 
the Missionary Ethnological Museum and there was signed on 
February n, 1929, the famous Lateran agreement. 'The day be 
fore this agreement with Italy was made, Pius XI, breaking the 
imprisonment of the Popes which had lasted since 1870, came to 
the Lateran to celebrate his fiftieth anniversary as a priest. After 
his coronation in 1939, Pope Pius XII took possession of his ca 
thedral church and has since visited it on various occasions. 

St. Mary Major, the Church of the Mother of God, on the 
Esquiline Hill, is a privileged church of the Popes. According to 
the legend surrounding the origin of this basilica, Mary herself 


designated the spot of its erection in letting fall a shower of snow 
in the middle of August. To commemorate this miraculous event, 
there is still held every year in August a charming ceremony 
during which a band of young girls scatter a shower of white rose 
petals from the dome of the Church, which was first known as 
Sancta Maria ad Nives, or as the Liberian Basilica in honor of 
Pope Liberius who erected it in the fourth century. Although the 
interior was restored in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries 
in the style of the period, the basilica still retains its original form 
with five naves, a triumphal arch of the fifth century, and a series 
of magnificent mosaics above the thirty-six marble columns. The 
ceiling, the only Renaissance note in the interior, was covered by 
the architect Sangallo with the first gold brought from America. 
We find the tombs of some six or seven Popes in St. Mary Major's, 
and the ancient painting of the Madonna traditionally ascribed to 
St. Luke is honored in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin. Under 
the altar of the Confession are preserved the relics of the Apostle 
St. Mathias. 

Inseparably linked to Peter in Rome and to the Church which 
he founded, is the influence of the great Paul. According to an 
old tradition they were martyred on the same day, and a small 
chapel near the Gate of St. Paul marks the spot where they bade 
each other farewell. Pilgrims to Rome over the centuries have 
repaired from the hill of the Vatican where the Prince of Apostles 
was buried to the tomb of the Apostle of the Gentiles on the 
Ostian Way. The original basilica of St. Paul, like that of St. Peter, 
was built by Constantine, and, escaping many of the catastrophes 
which befell the Church of the Popes, prolonged its venerable 
existence until the nineteenth century. But on July 16, 1823, as 
the aged Pontiff Pius VII lay dying in the Palace of the Quirinal, 
a tremendous fire swept over the Basilica Ostiense. Leo XII was 
untiring in his efforts to rebuild St. Paul's on the exact spot of 
the old basilica and it was reconstructed with a new forest of 
monolithic columns from the quarries of many parts of the globe. 
Happily saved from the disaster, the great triumphal arch in mo 
saics of the fifth century with its representation of Christ the 
King, surrounded by Sts. Peter and Paul and the ancients of the 
Apocalypse, was incorporated in the new building. The exterior 
of the new basilica is decorated with a series of medallions of the 
Popes, showing their uninterrupted succession since Peter down 

The Vatican 3 1 

to the present day. Consecrated by Pius IX on the day following 
his definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and in 
the presence of the many bishops coming to Rome for this occasion, 
it is attached to the Holy See by many memories and many realities. 
In addition to the properties held and administered by the 
Holy See which already have been mentioned as enjoying extra 
territorial rights, there should be mentioned the Palaces of Sant' 
Andrea della Valle and San Carlo ai Catinari joined to the churches 
bearing their name; also the sanctuaries of St. Francis of Assisi, of 
St. Anthony and of Loreto (these last of course are not in Rome, 
but in Assisi, Padua and Recanate). Two other possessions should 
be mentioned: Castelgandolfo and the sacred soil of the cata 

The Palace of the Castelgandolfo was for centuries the coun 
try home of the Popes. From time immemorial the property had 
belonged to the Savelli and Gandolfi families of Genoa, but was 
purchased by Urban VIII (1623-44) who had constructed on the 
site a most salubrious one, be it said, where quick escape could 
be made from the heat of the Roman summer a palace designed 
by the architect Maderna. A miniature Vatican, it too contained 
halls for the various papal guards and bussolanti, a throne room, a 
long picture gallery and a little chapel profusely decorated by 
Bernini; as well as quarters for the Cardinal Secretary of State 
and other prelates of the papal household. 

Here the Pontiffs took up their residence in summer, received 
royal visitors and conducted much of the business of the Papacy. 
When the Popes began their term of imprisonment in the Vatican 
after the fall of the papal armies in 1870, the law of guarantees 
assured them the extraterritoriality of the pontifical domain of 
Castelgandolfo, but neither Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, nor Ben 
edict XV ever availed themselves of the use of their summer 
home. On the conclusion of the Lateran accord, however, a new 
state of affairs came into existence and Pius XI did not hesitate 
to claim Castelgandolfo as papal property. Although he might 
have chosen a more vast and sumptuous domain, the former papal 
summer palace contained so many memories and venerable tradi 
tions that the Papacy regarded it as family property, inalienable 
and holy. Moreover, Italy was willing to turn over to the Holy 
See, in addition to the former papal dwelling, the Villa Barberini 
and the small Cybo Palace nearby. Pius XI and Pius XII were 


regularly to use Castelgandolfo as their summer residence with 
the exception of the years during World War II when Pius XII 
did not leave the city of Rome, adhering to the principle that a 
bishop should not leave his see in time of danger. The present 
summer property of the Popes, with its hundred acres, contain 
ing at one end the old Castelgandolfo, and at the other the villa 
built upon the site of the palace of the Emperor Domkian, with 
the Cybo Palace between, makes a spacious and shady retreat for 
the Roman Pontiff on the shores of Lake Albano, 

An interesting clause in the Lateran accord reads as follows: 
"The disposition of the catacombs existing in the ground of Rome 
and in other parts of the territory of the Kingdom is reserved to 
the Holy See, and in consequence all pertaining to their guard, 
management and reservation. It may, therefore, in observance, 
however, of the laws of the State and respecting the law of one- 
third proceed to the necessary excavations and the transfer of 
the holy bodies." This solicitude on the part of the Holy See for 
the ancient dwelling place of the Christian Church and the tomb 
of so many of its martyrs is understandable. Pius XI took great 
interest in sacred archaeology, and in December,, 1925, founded 
the Pontificial Institute of Christian Archaeology which has been 
extended and enlarged by his successor, Pius XII. 

This Archaeological Institute is among a group of buildings 
which belongs to the Holy See but do not have extraterritoriality 
although the Italian government cannot expropriate them and they 
are tax exempt. Having this same status is the Palace of St. Apol- 
linaris and the retreat house for clergy situated on the Coelius 
and including the church of Sts. John and Paul and the Passionist 
Monastery, also the buildings connected with the Basilica of the 
Twelve Apostles. This arrangement also includes the Biblical In 
stitute founded by Pius X in 1909; the Oriental Institute whose 
work is directed toward Moscow and Byzantium; the Russian 
Institute, the Lombardy College, and the Gregorian University. 

This brief outline sketches the historical background and the 
present physical extent of the central properties of the Church, 
the domain of its supreme ruler. Let us now draw closer to that 
dominating figure about whom the whole complex organism of 
the Catholic Church revolves, and upon whose unique power all 

The V&tlcm 33 

its manifold activities depend: the Pope. We shall first deal with 
the Papacy in general, next with the modern Popes whose work 
prepared the ground for the contemporary resurgence of Catholic 
Action, and then with the personal work of the Pope as it is 
carried on today. 


IF THE VATICAN, together with St. Peter's basilica, is 
the material center of the Catholic Church, the site of its supreme 
administration, the Pope is the spiritual center of the Vatican and 
of St. Peter's, and of all the hundreds of thousands of subordinate 
spheres of the Church's activities throughout the world. As we 
have said before, the Catholic Church could function if the Vat 
ican and St. Peter's were destroyed or made inaccessible to the 
Pope and his helpers; but without the Papacy there would be no 
Catholic Church. For the Pope is not merely the honorary su 
perior of the members of the episcopate of the Catholic Church; 
he possesses full jurisdiction over the faithful in every diocese of 
the world. 

The Ecumenical Council of the Vatican has defined the papal 
primacy as follows: the chief of the bishops, the Pope is himself 
the bishop of every diocese. In matters of faith, morals and dis 
cipline his authority is supreme and he has universal power over 
the hierarchy and the faithful, to regulate, to legislate, to control 
and to dispense. His tribunal is the court of last instance in these 
matters, and no one may appeal from his decision. This is the 
substance of the Code of Canon Law in its canon 2 1 8, and these 
rights are not merely speculative the Pope uses them. Between 
Rome and all the dioceses of the Catholic world, relations are 
direct; the progress of modern civilization, rendering communica 
tions and the exchange of correspondence more rapid and more 
sure has strengthened the already close bonds between the Holy 
See and all members of the great Catholic family. The Vatican 

The Papacy 35 

Council of 1870 which defined the infallibility of the Pope and 
his primacy in the Roman Church, beliefs which had always been 
held in the Church but not a part of its defined dogma, con 
tributed to this centralizing policy of the modern Papacy. 

Nor is this true merely in matters of the higher government 
of the Church. The papal authority pervades and unifies each and 
every activity of Catholicism. Every part and all functions of the 
Catholic Church presuppose and depend upon the powers of the 
Pope, from the declaration of a dogma of the Faith to the least 
important ecclesiastical action, carried on in any part of the world, 
whatever it might be let us say, the blessing of a rosary by a 
priest not that any Catholic would consider this sacramental ac 
tion trivial. The point we wish to make is that no Catholic priest, 
acting officially as a priest, could bestow a blessing upon a set of 
rosary beads unless he had been duly authorized to do so. He must 
first have been ordained as a priest by a bishop; but that bishop 
could not give the priest the right to exercise his ministry unless 
that bishop were in full communion with the Holy See, with the 
Pope. The Church is strictly a hierarchy, and the Pope occupies 
the supreme height of that hierarchy. The right and the power to 
do so, all Catholics believe, came in the first instance from Al 
mighty God, through the acts on earth of Jesus Christ. 

Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church and the 
gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16: 18). 

Feed my lambs, . . . Feed my sheep, . . . (John 21:15-17). 

But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and thou, being 
once converted, confirm thy brethren (Luke 22:32). 

Upon these words of Jesus Christ, Catholics base their faith 
in the mission and the power of Peter and his successors, the 
Popes of Rome. First, the Papacy was constituted as the corner 
stone of that society which the Saviour called His Church. In the 
second place, the Popes were charged by their Divine Master to 
defend that Church against the attacks of the evil powers; these 
assaults would not destroy the Church, but Christ predicted that 
they would be frequent and terrible. Thirdly, the Pope was 
placed in his position as pastor or shepherd, not only to protect 
his lambs against the ravishers, but to guide and to conduct his 
flock, to direct it in the ways of development and progress de 
sired by God. Finally, the highest mission of the Papacy, and the 
indispensable condition of the others, was its establishment as the 


indestructible and living guardian of the common faith a faith 
which in its foundations was to remain changeless from the be 
ginning, but had unceasingly to be applied throughout the cen 
turies to the exigencies of time and place, among all sorts and 
conditions of mankind, on to the end of the world. 

Thus Catholics have regarded the two hundred and sixty-one 
successors of Peter as the Bishops of Rome and the heads of the 
Catholic Church. They consider that the papal succession, de 
spite the existence of anti-Popes, has been uninterrupted since 
the time of the Apostles, that the Pope is the spiritual ruler of all 
Catholics everywhere and that he is infallible in matters of faith 
and morals. 

Perhaps most difficult for non-Catholics to understand is the 
acceptance by Catholics of the infallibility of the Pope. It should 
be borne in mind that a very real distinction exists between what 
might be termed the functioning of the Popes in their spiritual 
and moral capacity as the visible head of Christ's Church on earth, 
the extent and scope of their authority to teach and to govern, 
and the frailties or even the gross sins of many of them as human 
beings. Despite the fact that the pontifical throne has been be 
smirched by the private lives of such pontiffs as a Sergius III, a 
John XII or an Alexander VI, Catholics hold that these Popes did 
not err in matters of dogma nor did they attempt by any pro 
nouncement to justify their own conduct. "The bulls of these 
monsters," as Joseph de Maistre tells us, "were irreproachable." 
"God," said Robert Bellarmine, "doubtless wished to show that 
the power of Rome did not owe its conservation to human direc 
tion nor to prudence, and that the rock on which it rests is so 
strongly fortified by a singular protection of God, that the powers 
of hell could not prevail against it." l History shows that no Pope, 
however sinful, has at any time attempted, as Pope, to say one 
word which would justify his personal conduct. 

Papal Titles 

The word Pope comes from the Greek 7??, and is the equiv 
alent of the Latin pater, or Father. For centuries it has been used 
within the limits of the Roman Catholic Church to designate solely 
the Bishop of Rome and the visible head of the Church (in the 
Orthodox Church the word is still used in a plural capacity). Papa. 
Romano Pontifice, Preface. 

The Papacy 37 

in Italian, Pape in French, Papst in German, the occupant of the 
Chair of Peter is to all the faithful the head of the great Christian 
family who look upon him for that solicitude which a father shows 
to his sons. We find the name Pope applied by Saint Ignatius, the 
disciple of the Apostles, to Saint Linus, Peter's first successor; it 
was soon to become the title common to all bishops. In the eighth 
century, to avoid confusion, Gregory II called himself Domnus 
Papa, but in the eleventh century Gregory VII was to prohibit the 
use of the title by all save the Bishop of Rome, to show more 
clearly the universality of his charge and to throw into stronger 
relief his unique position as the father of Christendom. 

The Pope has many other titles. These are the heritage of 
nearly two thousand years of history; and every one is expressive 
of Catholic doctrine, the souvenir of some great controversy, or 
a link between the Church and the ages which preceded the crea 
tion of the Church. He is variously known as the Vicar of God 
(name applied by Nicholas III), the Vicar of Christ (Vatican 
Council), Pater Patrum (Roman Council of 649 and Council of 
Carthage), Rector of the Universal Church (Council V of the 
Lateran), etc. Because Peter was chief of the Apostles, the Roman 
See has from early Christian times been Apostolicus and its bishop 
the Papa Apostolicus. Because he is a priest, the Pope is called by 
St. Bernard Sacerdw magnus, and by the Council of Calcedonia 
Princeps sacerdotum; because of the superiority of his pontificate 
over all others, he is called Pontifex, a name which, according to 
Varron, came from pontis facio, because the first priests of Rome 
received their office for having made the bridge over the Tiber. 
To show that this pontificate is inseparable from the See of Rome, 
the Pope is Summus Romanus Pontifex (Supreme Roman Pon 
tiff), and his See, his curia, his cathedral, and his court are quali 
fied by the adjective "Roman." 

Officially, the Roman Pontiffs sign bulls and other solemn 
documents as "Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God." This 
manner of subscription was adopted by Gregory the Great at the 
time of the Oriental heresies (circa 592) in order to confound the 
pride of the chief ecclesiastic of Constantinople who attributed to 
himself the title of ecumenical patriarch. Less solemn documents 
are signed by the Pope as Papa (P.P. in abbreviation). He is 
ordinarily addressed as "Holy Father" or "Your Holiness," both 
titles dating from remotest antiquity. 


Inseparable from his dignity as Pope, the Pontiff is, as we have 
seen, Bishop of Rome, and he exercises within the Roman diocese 
the same rights and duties as other bishops in their respective 
dioceses. He is also: i) Archbishop or Metropolitan of the Roman 
Province, with the same jurisdiction as other metropolitans in 
their provinces (we shall see later just how these dioceses and 
provinces are constituted and administered); 2) the Primate of 
Italy with ecclesiastical jurisdiction over all the Italian provinces; 
3) the Patriarch of the West, a quality belonging to the Holy See 
as founder of the churches of the Occident in general; and 4) sov 
ereign and administrator of the goods and temporal dominions of 
the Holy See. The Annuario Pontificio carries the following titles 
of the present Pope: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, 
Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the 
Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Arch 
bishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign 
of the State of Vatican City. 

The Papal Garb 

The informal garb of the Pope in his apartments and on ordi 
nary occasions is a cassock of white silk, the pectoral cross, purple 
silk slippers embroidered with gold crosses and, when out of 
doors, a red mantle and red hat (papal red) ; on occasions of state, 
an alb (usually trimmed with embroideries and lace), a red shoul 
der cape trimmed with ermine, a gold embroidered stole, a small 
white cap, or a red velvet cap trimmed with fur. At religious 
services he wears what is practically the liturgical dress of an 
archbishop. On certain solemn occasions and at functions not of 
a religious nature, the Pope wears the tiara, a headdress which is 
a combination of miter and crown, having three gold circlets. 
Other papal insignia are the Fisherman's Ring, 2 the crozier ter 
minating in a cross, the pallium (a collar of white wool embroi 
dered with six crosses) which, in contrast with the archbishops 
who display it only on certain occasions, he wears always and 
everywhere. Every article of dress, every ornament or accessory 
used by the Pope either in his ecclesiastical functions or his duties 

2 A ring carrying the representation of St. Peter fishing in a boat. Un 
like the other symbols of his office the Pope's ring is not passed on to his 
successor, but is solemnly broken upon his death and a new one is made 
for the next Pope. 

The Papacy 39 

as sovereign of his temporal possessions, has a special meaning, or 
is connected with sacred or secular rituals or customs, some of 
them going back to remote antiquity, having their origin in Jewish 
or pagan ceremonies of habits, some of them developed or de 
signed quite recently. 

Election and Coronation of the Pope 

According to the law in the matter, every adult Catholic male, 
even a lay person, is eligible to the Papacy. Nevertheless, since 
1378 the Sacred College has always chosen a cardinal from those 
present at the Conclave which assembles upon the death of a Pope 
to elect his successor. Since the time of the Renaissance the Pope 
has always been an Italian, although in the Middle Ages French, 
Spanish, Germans, Dutch or English were often elected. The Con 
clave (Latin for closed chamber, due to the fact that the election 
is held in absolute privacy and all outside communication for 
bidden the cardinals during this time) was formerly called for 
the eleventh day following the death of the Pope, but since 1922 
this delay has been extended to fifteen days, with the possibility 
of extension to eighteen, to facilitate the attendance of cardinals 
from a distance. 

Nowadays the election takes place in the Sistine Chapel which 
is completely transformed for the occasion. The altar is covered 
with a piece of tapestry representing the descent of the Holy 
Ghost upon the Apostles and above the altar hangs a violet bal 
dachin bordered with red and edged with gold. On the highest 
step of the altar is the papal throne awaiting the new Pope. Along 
the walls are placed the thrones of the electors and in front of 
each a small table bearing his arms and name in Latin. The votes 
are examined before a large table in front of the altar; nearby is 
the celebrated stove in which, when no election is obtained, the 
papers are burned with damp straw the traditional black smoke 
or fumata announcing to the populace before the Vatican that the 
Church is still without a head. When the choice is finally made, 
the voting papers are burned without straw, the white smoke be 
ing the first news to the outside world of the election. 

A two-thirds majority of votes plus at least one is necessary 
for a cardinal to be elected Pope. In former times two other meth 
ods of election were employed besides scrutiny, namely, election 
by inspiration or acclamation, and election by compromise the 


first being adopted when all cardinals unanimously acclaimed one 
of their number as Pope, and the second by the transference of 
the choice to a certain limited number of assembled voters. In the 
latter case, when a two-thirds majority was still unobtainable, 
votes were taken in favor of the candidate who had secured the 
votes of a certain majority (the accessit). This method was, how 
ever, abolished by Pius X in 1904, and election by scrutiny is the 
only method now in use. 

Pius X also abolished the right of veto formerly held and 
sometimes exercised by national governments, the last occasion 
being the veto cast by Austria against Cardinal Rampolla in the 
conclave which elected Pius X. Each cardinal in turn, according 
to seniority, bears to the altar his paper on which he has written 
his choice, folded and on a level with his head. He kneels and 
takes an oath: "I call the Lord Christ, my future judge, to witness 
that I am electing the man whom in the sight of God I judge the 
most proper to be elected." He then places his vote in a chalice 
on the central table. 

As soon as the Pope is elected, the secretary of the Conclave, 
the ceremoniarii, and the sacristan are summoned into the chapel. 
The Pope-elect is asked whether he accepts his election, and when 
an answer in the affirmative is clearly received, he indicates the 
name which he wishes to take; for since the time of Sergius IV 
in the eleventh century, the person elected has always changed 
his name. It is at the moment of his acceptance of the election that 
the papal jurisdiction passes to the new Pope; he is clothed in the 
papal vestments, and receives for the first time the homage of the 
cardinals who kiss his hand and foot (adoratio), and the Ring of 
the Fisherman from the Cardinal Chamberlain. Meanwhile the 
first cardinal-deacon proclaims to the waiting populace that a Pope 
has been elected; and the new Pope goes out upon the balcony 
of the Hall of Benedictions to give a first blessing to the city and 
to the world. 3 

3 All procedures connected with the vacancy of the Holy See (Sede 
Vacante], which is the period from the death of a Pope until the election 
of his successor, as well as the procedures inside the Conclave were newly 
regulated by Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution of December 8, 1945. The 
most important provisions of this Constitution, which does not change the 
basic lines of the decree issued by Pius X in 1904, regard the following: 
i) the above-mentioned two-third-plus-one majority (it was formerly two- 
thirds); 2) emphasis on an unmistakable reply of acceptance; 3) new security 
provisions to enforce the secrecy of the election. 

The Papacy 41 

The coronation of the Pope, which takes place on the feast or 
Sunday following his election, is a solemn and magnificent cere 
mony, surrounded by traditions that go back for centuries, but it 
adds nothing to the jurisdiction of the Pontiff which begins with 
his utterance of one Latin word at the Conclave when he is noti 
fied of his election: "Accepto" Three times at the beginning of 
the coronation ceremony he is reminded by the burning of a 
handful of flax and the words "Sic transit gloria mundi" that hu 
man honor is nothing before God and the material world will 
crumble and vanish away. 

The consecration of a Pope resembles in many respects that 
of a bishop: after the Collect of the Mass, as the choir intones 
the Veni Creator., the consecrating bishop anoints with chrism the 
forehead and tonsure of the newly-elect. During the chanting of 
the litanies, the Pope remains prostrate before the altar as three 
bishops in succession come to pray over him; the deacons hold 
above his head the open book of the Gospels. Finally the arch 
deacon places upon him the pallium, a circular band of white 
wool symbolizing the fullness of his episcopal powers, and the 
Pope receives the obedience of the cardinals, bishops, patriarchs 
and prelates who pass before his throne. At this Mass the Epistle 
and Gospel are sung in Latin and Greek, expressing the unity of 
East and West in the Catholic Church. 

The Mass ended, the Pope is borne in procession to the huge 
balcony of St. Peter's facing the Square. Here he is crowned by 
the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, who after reciting 
the Lord's Prayer places the triple crown upon the Pope's head 
with the words: "Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns 
and know that you are the Father of princes and kings, Pontiff 
of the world, and Vicar on earth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to 
whom be honor and glory for ever and ever." The Pope then 
bestows a blessing upon the crowds waiting below in St. Peter's 


A BRIEF SURVEY of the activities of the five Popes prior 
to Pius XII, the reigning Pontiff, will serve to sketch in the back 
ground of the activities of those rulers of the Church in modern 
days who have prepared the way for the present position of the 
Papacy in world affairs. 

Six Popes, including the present Pontiff, have ruled the Church 
during the last eighty years Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Ben 
edict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII. In 1876 Pius IX had been thirty 
years Pope. The six years previous had been for him practically a 
term of imprisonment self-imposed, perhaps, according to the 
judgment of the world, but to him and his successors compelled 
by their duty to their supreme office. This imprisonment began 
in 1870 when the temporal domains of the Church were confis 
cated by the new government of United Italy and there was cre 
ated the so-called Roman Question: briefly, the contending claims 
of the Catholic Church and of the Italian State, which was finally 
to be solved in 1929. 

The two great dogmas proclaimed in 1854 and 1870, namely 
the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and the infallibil 
ity of the Pope, had produced those effects which invariably 
follow the promulgation of dogma by the Church. The faith of 
loyal Catholics was intensified and energized, and a confused, 
clamorous outbreak of criticism arose among the sects separated 
from the stem of the Church and the various schools of secular 
philosophy. At the time of the Vatican Council 1870 the world 
was just entering that era of intensified nationalism and im- 

The Modern Popes 43 

perialism which was to come to judgment and condemnation in 
the years between 1914 and 1918 and between 1939 and 1945 in 
two world wars. 

The hour when the Vatican Council assembled was one of the 
very dark moments in the history of the Church. The secessionist 
and rebellious forces, which over the centuries have contended 
against her, now, after their many defeats, seemingly concentrated 
all the disruptive elements of the century to bring the Church to 
that bed of death to which her enemies have so often consigned 
her. In Italy bishops were imprisoned; Church property was con 
fiscated wholesale, particularly in the Holy City itself; religious 
orders were expelled; education was almost completely in the 
hands of a hostile State. In Germany, that persecution of the 
Church under Bismarck which goes by the name of the Kultur- 
kampf was at its height. In Russia, the Catholic clergy and laity 
were subjected to ruthless repression. Even in Austria, which 
claimed to be loyal to the Holy See, the concordat of 1855 had 
been abolished and the Church was placed under the control of 
the civil government. In France was rumbling a volcano of anti- 
Catholic opposition which was to flame forth a few years later. 

The countries where Protestantism was predominant and 
where it took a much more active part in molding the foreign 
policies of the government than seems to be the case today, gave 
strong encouragement to the new Italian government in its op 
position to the Church. Nor did there come to the aged and fail 
ing Pius IX (the eyes of the world might have seen in his feeble 
ness and decline the very symbol of the Church herself) aid or 
encouragement from governments of countries whose people 
were Catholic. It was indeed a dark hour for the Papacy. No 
doubt there were those who remembered the force of that saying 
which is trite as truth itself, that for the Church at least these dark 
hours come only before the dawn of a new day of light and life. 

Pope Leo XIII 

In 1878 there ascended the Throne of the Fisherman Leo XIII, 
the first of the five Popes with whom is associated the contempo 
rary history of the Catholic Church. With him began that reas- 
sertion of spiritual, moral and intellectual power which was to 
rally the disheartened and scattered forces of the Faith against 
the rising might of the armies of materialism. Deprived of all 


human resources, ignored by nearly all governments and strongly 
opposed by the most powerful among them, Leo XIII at once 
began to speak as one having legitimate authority, not only to 
the peoples directly under his spiritual jurisdiction but to the 
entire world; not only to the people as such, but to their govern 
ments and to the individuals who through hereditary power or 
individual genius at that time were predominant in public affairs. 
On the very day of his election in 1878, Leo notified Germany 
and Russia of his ascension to the papal throne, and expressed 
the hope of seeing relations with them re-established. Russia sent 
the more cordial reply, but both governments were noncommittal. 
The world gave slight attention at first to this voice that with 
such calm but powerful assurance now spoke from the prison of 
the Vatican. 

That voice soon compelled attention. Its utterances began to 
produce their effect. Bismarck speedily found that he was unable 
to govern without Catholic support. He began that very year his 
pilgrimage to Canossa. Several of the most odious of the Prussian 
laws against the Church were relaxed. The Center Party, the 
Catholic political bloc formed because of necessity, strengthened 
by the voice of Leo won battle after battle. By 1883 bishops were 
being appointed by Rome to various long-vacant German sees. 
The following year diplomatic relations with the Vatican were 
resumed, and three years later State and Church in Germany had 
composed the main points of their quarrel. The next year, in 
1888, Bismarck proposed Leo as arbitrator in the dispute over the 
Caroline Islands. 

Enough could be said to fill volumes about the struggle in 
Germany and Leo's participation in it, and of the important re 
sults of that struggle not only in Germany but throughout the 
world. Yet Germany was but one item in the score of problems 
that confronted Leo. The ups and downs of the struggle in Rus 
sia, for example, with its effects in Poland and other countries 
bordering on the Czar's dominions, would fill another volume. In 
1 879, after the attempt on Alexander IFs life, Leo held out hands 
of friendship to the Czar; when the third Alexander reached the 
throne in 1883, a temporary agreement was reached. A few epis 
copal sees were tolerated and the more stringent laws against the 
Catholic clergy were slightly relaxed in Russia; but in the next 
year Leo's support of the Ruthenian Catholics was answered by a 

The Modern Popes 45 

bitter increase of persecution. It was not until 1894 that diplo 
matic relations were re-established. 

The great storm brewing in France did not break in its full 
force until after Leo had passed from the scene. He remained on 
good terms with the government of France throughout his entire 
pontificate, despite manifestations of the spirit of opposition to 
the Church which were later to lead to suppression of the reli 
gious orders and the gradual increase of civil power over educa 
tion. Leo called on all French Catholics to accept the Republic. 
The powerful monarchical party would not listen to him, but his 
wisdom was greater than theirs; his policy was to stand the 
Church in stead in later years. 

In Belgium also there were storms over educational questions 
leading to the breaking-off of relations between the Vatican and 
the Belgian government in 1880; but in 1885 a new government 
restored diplomatic relations. In Italy, Leo maintained the attitude 
of protest forced upon Pius IX with regard to the Kingdom of 
Italy and its usurpation of Rome and the seizure of the property 
of the Church. He desired the complete independence of the 
Holy See and its restoration as a real sovereignty. He upheld the 
prohibition against Italian Catholics taking part in political elec 
tions in the hope that the government would be obliged to come 
to terms. 

Only bare mention can be made of Leo's activities in connec 
tion with the Church in other countries. In England, for example, 
where the hierarchy had been reconstituted by Pius IX in 1850, 
there were such important events as the elevation of John Henry 
Newman to the cardinalate an event which conjures up the 
enormously important story of the Oxford Movement, and the 
development and growth of the Church in England which was 
so fruitfully to continue. There was the investigation of the 
cardinal problem of the validity of Anglican orders, and the deci 
sion confirmed by the Pope that Anglican orders were null and 
void. There was the restoration of the Scottish hierarchy in 1878. 
Ten years later the hierarchy was established in British India. In 
Ireland, in 1879, there began the gradual recognition of Catholic 
rights in the field of education; the passing of the Intermediate 
Education Act, which appropriated money for prizes, exhibitions 
and the like, irrespective of creed, was a decided step in favor of 
the Church, since previously the State had given no assistance 


whatever to Catholic education. In 1888, there was a message to 
the bishops of Brazil on the abolition of slavery. The following 
year the first Plenary Council of the Church of Latin America 
was held in Rome. And so throughout the world proceeded Leo's 
ceaseless activities. 

His relations with the Church in the United States are natu 
rally of particular interest. From the time of the birth of the Re 
public, when the Catholics counted only thirty to forty thousand 
souls, with a handful of priests, the growth of the Church had 
been extraordinary. By 1880 there were sixty episcopal sees, six 
thousand priests and a Catholic body of 6,259,000 faithful. In 1883 
the American archbishops were summoned to Rome to prepare 
an agenda for the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, one of 
the landmarks in the Catholic history of the United States, since it 
touched almost every phase of the relations of the hierarchy and 
of the individual Catholic with his Church, from restatements of 
dogmas to ecclesiastical organization. The Third Plenary Council 
of Baltimore was held in 1884, the number of prelates attending 
almost double that of those who attended the Second Council in 
1866, eighteen years before when Cardinal Gibbons had served as 
assistant chancellor. Now, as archbishop of Baltimore, he presided 
over seventy-one archbishops and bishops of the United States. In 
1885 Pope Leo confirmed the decrees of the Council and the fol 
lowing year created Archbishop Gibbons the first American car 

With the purely ecclesiastical portion of the work of the coun 
cil, the laws and regulations there laid down for the government 
of the Church in the United States, we cannot deal here; but there 
were other matters considered at the Third Plenary Council, or 
which came to fruition because of the seeds sown by that coun 
cil, which may properly come within the limits of even this brief 
chronicle. There was, for a prime example, the foundation of 
the Catholic University of America under the sponsorship of 
Leo XIII. Favorably considered by the Second Plenary Council 
in 1866, the idea was allowed to lie dormant until the Third 
Council. The university opened its doors in 1889, when Pope Leo 
sent Monsignor Satolli as papal legate to Washington to attend 
the ceremonies. The university soon became the center of many 
important movements in Catholic educational progress. The same 
year saw the first Catholic Congress in the United States, held in 

The Modern Popes 47 

memory of the first century of Catholic life in the United States 
under an established hierarchy, and in 1892 the Apostolic Delega 
tion at Washington was founded. Important papal instructions 
were given the country's hierarchy, notably in the memorable 
encyclical Longinqua oceani spatia (1895) an ^ the letter Testem 
benevolentiae (i 8 99) to Cardinal Gibbons on "Americanism." 
When we look at Leo's prodigious activities we should not 
forget that his intellectual labors, his interest in the arts and 
sciences, in philosophy, and in the study of the forces that are 
the springs of modern problems for example the relations of 
capital and labor as set forth in his encyclical Rerzm novctrum 
were as intense and produced results perhaps even more important 
than his executive and diplomatic efforts. His encyclical letters 
began the modern restatement of Christian philosophy and of 
Christian principles as applied to the main social problems of our 
troubled age. He gave powerful support to the reformation of 
the study of ecclesiastical history on scientific lines. He re-estab 
lished the Vatican Observatory. In 1903, the year before he died, 
he initiated the permanent Biblical Commission to guide Catholic 
students of the Scriptures. 

Saint Pius X 

The heads of the great governments and the chief voices of 
the press of the world vied with each other in paying tributes of 
respect and honor to Leo when he died; it might have seemed 
that he had re-established the dignity and the proper importance 
of the Papacy even in the eyes of those who did not recognize 
its supreme spiritual authority. But there was a marked reaction 
when Pius X ascended the throne of the Fisherman. It appeared 
to have been Leo the man, not Leo the Pope, who had won the 
reluctant admiration of the world, and that its respect was a mood 
and not a conviction of mind. There seemed to be a concerted 
effort to disparage Pius. Great newspapers and reviews referred 
to him scoffingly as a peasant forgetting that in the Catholic 
Church the equality of souls in the eyes of God is not a mere 
abstract principle, but a principle of its action. This has been true 
ever since the time when Christ chose humble men to build His 
Church, and when the highly educated and mighty intellectual 
Paul, great as he was in the work of the Church, was placed sec 
ond in rank to the unlettered fisherman, Peter. Two of the great 


modern Popes, Leo XIII and Benedict XV, were of aristocratic 
birth; Pius X was of the peasantry; Pius XI, sprang from the 
bourgeoisie, the middle class; Pius XII of the Roman aristoc 

Of Pius X it can be said that he lived up to the motto of his 
pontificate which was "To restore all things in Christ," and that 
what he accomplished in the eleven years of his service as Christ's 
vicar forms one of the great chapters in the history of the Church. 
If Pope Leo XIII was the Pope whose work began the modern 
restoration of the world influence of the Catholic Faith, it was 
Pius X who was the spiritual dynamo. His intense preoccupation 
with the interior work of the Church set in operation streams of 
power which ever since his reign have been spreading and grow 
ing and moving the intellectual, moral, educational, missionary and 
social activities of Catholics throughout the world. During the 
brief time that he guided the Bark of Peter he struck at three of 
the most serious heresies that have ever threatened the Catholic 
Faith: Gallicanism, Jansenism and Modernism. 

Gallicanism which although associated with only one coun 
try, France, may be taken also to mean all tendencies and efforts 
to break the unity of the Catholic Church by bringing its organi 
zation and psychology under the domination and official control 
of the secular state Pius X overthrew by naming and consecrat 
ing nineteen bishops for France as his own appointees. No bishops 
had so been named for several centuries without being in some 
way designated by the French government which had consist 
ently sought to keep France apart from the universal Church and 
French Catholics subservient to the secular aims of their rulers. 
The French retaliated with a series of drastic laws, seizing Church 
property, exiling the religious orders, and attempting the com 
plete secularization of education. Jansenism, that cold, inhuman, 
ultra-puritanical spirit which the Church has fought, especially 
in France,, for centuries, Pius X met with his teachings and de 
crees, insisting on the frequent, even the daily reception of Holy 
Communion by the laity, and the early reception of the Sacrament 
by little children. Modernism that independence of dogma and 
authority which, if accepted, would destroy Catholic teaching in 
every field the compendium of all the heresies, as Pius X termed 
it, was dealt its deathblow. 

The Modern Popes 49 

Pius X also initiated the restoration of Gregorian music, abol 
ished the right of veto at papal elections claimed by several gov 
ernments, reformed canon law, and in many other ways too 
numerous for examination dealt with the institutions, systems, 
customs and rites of the Church, totally reorganizing the Roman 
Congregations, Offices and Tribunals, in other words, the Roman 
Curia. He was held to be a saint when he died, and the ensuing 
process of his canonization drew the world's attention to his 
heroic virtues. Beatified in 1951 and canonized in 1954, Pius X 
has taken his place among the saints of the Church. 

Pope Benedict XV 

When the successor of Pius X, Benedict XV, was elected 
the world was at war, and before that war ran its course it might 
have seemed that the progress made by the Church since the dark 
hour when Pius IX passed away, and all the work of Leo XIII and 
Pius X, would be brought to naught. At the beginning of Bene 
dict's pontificate in 1914 only fourteen states were represented at 
the Holy See. The many and apparently powerful attempts car 
ried on throughout almost the whole of the World War I period 
to discredit the Papacy, to make it appear partisan and humanly 
biased, are difficult to comprehend today when just minds recog 
nize the fact that the Holy See during those years was the one 
power that strove for peace. The similarity if not the identity 
of the proposals for peace issued by Benedict XV and later made 
the basis of the armistice proposals of President Wilson, is ob 
vious to any fair mind. But in spite of all misrepresentations and 
misunderstandings, the truth did become apparent and before 
Benedict died, worn out by his incessant labors and responsibili 
ties, the wisdom of his proposals and the world-wide moral in 
fluence of the Catholic Church was recognized by statesmen and 
twenty-six nations had sent representatives to the Vatican. 

During Benedict's pontificate both England and France re 
sumed diplomatic relations with the Holy See and during the 
war the independence of the Pope was respected by Italy which 
allowed cardinals of any nationality to come and go through its 
territory. After the conflict two world-wide appeals made by 
Benedict brought in millions of dollars and saved countless masses 
from starvation in Central and Eastern Europe. 


Pope Pius XI 

"The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ" was the 
motto chosen by Achille Ratti when he ascended the Throne of 
the Fisherman in 1922. It bound together the aspirations of the 
Pontiffs who had preceded him and whose thorny political and 
diplomatic problems he inherited. He speedily showed that he 
was possessed of the natural abilities necessary for success in such 
matters. No doubt his experience between 1918 and 1920 as papal 
legate and then nuncio to Poland had prepared him for his greater 
diplomatic and political tasks as Pope. Yet most of his priestly 
life had been remote from the field of such strenuously practical 
affairs, for it had been spent as chaplain to a community of con 
templative nuns in Milan and in the retired and highly specialized 
work of a librarian and scholar in the Ambrosian Library of 
Milan and the Vatican Library. It was perhaps from the first of 
these duties that he derived that deep devotion to the inner, mys 
tical spiritual life of the Church which was one of his marked 

Before his ascent to the papal throne, Pope Pius had already 
proved his statesmanship and courage. He had personally wit 
nessed the events of the Polish-Soviet War of 1920. When Poland 
was invaded by the Bolshevists and Warsaw was threatened, he 
had not left the Polish capital and had greatly endeared himself 
to the Polish people. His sense of justice, however, had prevented 
him from any display of partisanship. In the unfortunate discord 
between the Poles and the Ukrainians he assured the religious 
rights of the Ukrainian minority; during the Silesian plebiscite of 
1920 he acted as papal emissary to prevent any abuse of ecclesias 
tical rights in the settlement of this problem, hotly contested by 
Poland and Germany. His absolute impartiality brought him at 
tacks from both sides, but Pope Benedict XV stood firmly behind 
him. In March, 1921, he appointed Achille Ratti as archbishop of 
Milan and created him cardinal. 

Cardinal Ratti was elected to the Papacy on February 6, 1922, 
and on the very first day of his pontificate indicated in a very 
dramatic fashion his intention of dealing with the "Roman Ques 
tion." He at once appeared on the exterior balcony of the central 
church of Christendom and publicly gave his blessing to the 

The Modern Popes 5 1 

world and to the city. From time immemorial the Popes, when 
elected, had made it their first affair to give that benediction, and, 
before the capture of Rome in 1870 they would go from church 
to church in the Sacred City freely dispensing the blessing of the 
Vicar of Christ. But all the Popes since then, until Pius XI as a 
part of their policy of resistance to the usurpation of their rights 
had bestowed the great blessing inside the Church of St. Peter's. 
Now the new Pope indicated a fresh line of action, and shortly 
began those long and difficult negotiations with Italy which cul 
minated in the Lateran treaties of 1929. By its main provision the 
Holy See renounced all claim to the former Papal States while the 
Kingdom of Italy recognized the sovereignty and independence 
of the new State of Vatican City, and accepted the canon law of 
the Church as valid throughout the Italian jurisdiction. With the 
signing of this agreement the Roman Question was closed, and 
although Italy became a Republic after World War II the Lateran 
accord continues in effect. 

The undertaking of the settlement of the Roman Question 
was but the beginning of an era of great activity on the part of 
Pope Pius. The concordats and treaties he signed were all the 
fruit of strenuous negotiations, in which he did not shun a fight 
but always held himself ready for a generous reconciliation. After 
the more or less violent anti-Church attitudes taken by various 
European governments during the nineteenth and the first part 
of the twentieth centuries, many statesmen had come to the con 
viction that the best way to avoid clashes would be to lay down in 
friendly agreements what the Church expects from the State and 
what the State expects from the Church. With this Pope Pius 
agreed, for he was an orderly man and liked to set things straight. 
Pius XFs first concordat was signed with Latvia in 1922 and 
marked the completion of negotiations he had himself begun 
while nuncio to Warsaw. Concordats were signed with Bavaria 
in 1924; with Poland in 1925; with France in 1924 and 1926; with 
Romania in 1927; with Lithuania in 1927; a modus vivendi with 
Czechoslovakia in 1927; with Portugal two agreements in 1928 
and 1929; with Prussia in 1929; with Baden in 1932; with Ger 
many in 1933, and with Austria in 1937. Pope Pius also attempted 
to negotiate a concordat with Russia. These negotiations and con 
cordats show Pius XI and the Church's good will which on 


many occasions remained, however, one-sided. The persecution 
of the Church went on in Russia, in Mexico, in Spain and in Ger 

Pius XI knew that the peace of the world did not rest on a 
solid basis. In his opinion many injustices were committed by 
the Treaty of Versailles signed after World War I and he did not 
hide this opinion. Against aggressive nationalism, neo-pagan ideas 
and the ever increasing pressure of atheistic communism, he of 
fered innumerable warnings in his encyclicals. In Non abbiamo 
bisogno, a papal letter written in his own hand in 1931, he pro 
tested the restrictions on Catholic youth activities in Italy and 
showed the impossibility of being at once a Fascist and a Catholic. 
In 1937, after the Hitler government had evinced its bad faith in 
the matter of the concordat of 1933 and after interference of 
every sort by the Nazi government in Catholic life, he con 
demned the National Socialist theory and racial doctrines in a 
powerful encyclical, Mit brennender Sorge. Only a few days 
later he issued a denunciation of Marxist ideas in On Atheistic 
Communism. (Earlier, in 1925, he had condemned the royalist 
Action -frangaise movement). He constantly and openly spoke out 
against racism, anti-semitism and totalitarianism and their menace 
to human dignity. 

To assure the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ, so 
ciety had to be transformed, and for this Pius XI saw the most 
effective means in renewed Catholic Action. He appealed for the 
participation of the laity in all things religious: i) the education 
of youth and the religious instruction of the people; 2) the sancti- 
fication of the family; 3) the sanctification of labor; 4) support of 
the Catholic press. His great encyclical Vigilanti cur a, June 1936, 
deals with the problem of truth; Casti connubii, December 1930, 
has as its subject Christian marriage; Quadragesima anno, May 
1931, is a restatement of the Church's position on the question of 
capital and labor set forth by Leo XIII forty years before; Rerum 
omnium, 1923, gives norms for the Catholic press. These and 
many other encyclicals and addresses were really sermons ad 
dressed to the laity, and fit into his general program for Cath 
olic Action, which this Pope described as "the apple of his 

In the mission field he made reforms stressing the necessity of 
integrating Christianity with native cultures and in 1929 he set 

The Modern Popes 53 

up the Pontifical Work of St. Peter the Apostle for the Native 
Clergy which was to bear such fruitful results. His great interest 
in the problems of the Eastern Church led to the foundation of 
the Institute of Oriental Studies, and during his entire pontificate 
he sponsored the publication of liturgical works for the Oriental 
Rites. In 1929 he opened the Russicum in Rome, an institute for 
the training of the Russian clergy, and in the same year founded 
a commission for the codification of the canon law of the Eastern 
Churches. This commission gave orders in August, 1929 and 
January, 1935, that studies in the history and liturgy of the 
Eastern Church should be included in the curriculum of all Cath 
olic seminaries of the world. 

Pius XI paid special attention to the question of education. He 
favored the erection of institutes of higher education both for 
the clergy and the laity, stressing the need of new Catholic uni 
versities and scientific institutions. He reconstituted the Pontifical 
Academy of Science in 1936, and in March, 1938 after the death 
of Cardinal Bisleti, prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Semi 
naries and Universities,, he retained for himself the chairmanship 
of this congregation. He was at once a man of science and one 
of intense personal piety. 

The humble nun Therese of Lisieux was his favorite saint and 
he chose her as protectress of his pontificate. All of his activities 
were based on a deep devotion to the inner, mystical, spiritual 
life of the Church and a concern for its freedom in the work of 
saving souls. He knew that the Church could be free only if 
everyone was free, in other words if it could function in an at 
mosphere of general freedom. In 1925, he instituted the new feast 
of Christ the King to recall the rights of religion in the State, and 
issued an encyclical, Quas primas, insisting upon the Church's 
liberty from secular authority in achieving its mission. 

During his pontificate two Holy Years were observed the 
year 1925 and the special Holy Year of 1933-4 commemorating 
the nineteenth centennial of the Passion, Death and Resurrection 
of Christ. During these years many men and women martyrs, 
founders of religious congregations, teachers, writers, apostles of 
charity and enlightenment were inscribed upon the lists of the 
blessed and the saints. During Pius XI's pontificate 449 persons 
were beatified and 32 saints canonized. He also proclaimed four 
new Doctors of the Church; St. Peter Canisius in 1925; St. John 


of the Cross in 1926; St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Albert the 
Great in 1931. 

Pius XI remained active until the end of his life. In 1938, like 
Pius X in 1914, he foresaw the approaching storm. He was bit 
terly disappointed with the course taken by the Fascist govern 
ment of Italy, which, in his opinion, would lead to confusion 
and war. He intended to deliver a very strong appeal condemning 
National Socialism and Fascism, and although very ill, he pre 
pared his speech. The occasion was set for February 1 1 and he 
summoned all the bishops of Italy to a general audience, but this 
audience never took place. Pius XI died February 10, 1939, on 
the eve of his intended discourse, which would have been an 
other of his great public acts of leadership and courage. 

Pope Pius XII 

His successor, Eugenio Pacelli, was elected March 2, 1939, 
after the third ballot on the first day of the Conclave. The first 
papal Secretary of State to be chosen Pope for centuries, he was 
also the first Pontiff of Roman birth since 1721. Pius XII was 
born in Rome on March 2, 1876, into a distinguished Roman 
family that had long held close ties to the Papacy. Educated in 
Rome from grammar school to university, it was in the Eternal 
City that he was ordained to the priesthood in 1899 and trained 
as a papal diplomat. He became undersecretary of State in 1912 
and, after his consecration as bishop, was appointed papal nuncio 
to Bavaria (1917). 

Benedict XV appointed Eugenio Pacelli to this most important 
post at a time when no other German State nor the Reich itself 
had diplomatic relations with the Papacy; thus actually the nuncio 
in Munich acted for all Germany. Under the direction of Bene 
dict XV, Bishop Pacelli took part in those delicate negotiations 
through which the Pope tried to bring about a peace settlement 
between the belligerents in the first world war. Throughout the 
conflict he personally visited prisoner-of-war camps and did much 
to help the suffering civilian population. In 1920 he became the 
first nuncio to the Reich, but he continued to reside in Munich 
until 1925 when he moved to Berlin where he remained until 
1929. At this time, as we have seen, it was the firm conviction of 
Benedict's successor, Pius XI, that the atmosphere was propitious 
for agreements between the Church and various States. Bishop 

The Modern Topes 55 

Pacelli was directed to prepare a number of concordats with the 
German "Lander" and the final concordat to be signed with the 
Reich in 1933. 

After the death of Cardinal Gasparri in 1934, he became Car 
dinal Secretary of State and faced numberless new problems, in 
first line the application of the Lateran treaties. In addition the 
Pope sent him to many important Catholic international meetings 
and congresses, so that he became acquainted not only with the 
hierarchy and clergy of a number of nations but also with the 
peoples themselves. He was Pius XI's legate to the Eucharistic 
Congress in Buenos Aires in 1934, and represented the Pope at 
the important triduum of prayers for peace held at Lourdes in 
1935. In 1936 he was sent to the Eucharistic Congress in Chicago 
and during this time visited almost every important diocese of 
the United States, traveling from coast to coast and familiarizing 
himself with many aspects of a country which he said had 
achieved so much in the past and now "promised so much more 
for the future, not only for this country, but for all humanity." 
In 1937 he attended the consecration of the newly-erected basil 
ica at Lisieux; in 1938 he was papal legate to the International 
Eucharistic Congress in Budapest. Thus when the Sacred College 
elected him to head the Church (March 2, 1939) he was well 
aware of conditions in many parts of the world. 

As Pope he continued the Holy See's activity for peace and 
until the end of the World War II he did not cease his efforts to 
prevent the war, to limit it, and to alleviate its effects. After 
repeated warnings in his public utterances as well as to the 
diplomatic representatives at the Vatican, he undertook in May, 
1939, a decisive diplomatic step, sending to the governments of 
Europe a note pointing out the danger of the impending con 
flict. On August 24, 1939, after the signing of the Russo-German 
agreement which determined the partition of Poland and made 
war inevitable, he made a supreme appeal to the powers con 
cerned, and on August 3 1 of that year sent a note to the govern 
ments of France, Germany, Poland, Great Britain and Italy, im 
ploring them in the name of God to refrain from any act of war. 

When all these efforts failed and the conflict broke out, he 
immediately started his activities for the restoration of peace. On 
October 20, 1939, he issued an encyclical Summi pontificatus 
in which he laid down "the principles of a just and true peace," 


and denounced those basic errors which had brought the world 
to the present state; in his Christmas message of 1940 he elabo 
rated a Five-Point Peace Plan, proposing various international 
agreements and stressing the necessity for preparing in advance 
a reasonable program for peace. At the same time he worked to 
prevent Italy's participation in the war, appealing directly to the 
Italian King. On April 24, 1940, the Pope sent an autographed 
letter to Mussolini, asking him not to enter the war. Mussolini 
expressed his displeasure at this papal demarche and protested 
against it. Pius XII, then calmly but firmly let him know that he 
was not "afraid to go to a concentration camp." 

When Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg were invaded on 
May 10, 1940,, Pope Pius sent telegrams to the sovereigns of these 
countries expressing his sympathy for their unhappy peoples. 
After the occupation of France he immediately directed a letter 
of consolation to the French episcopate (June 29, 1940). 

Nor did the Pope miss an opportunity to bring the rulers of 
Germany to their senses. As the atrocities increased, he sent a 
new note of protest (July 10, 1939) to the government of the 
Reich. When, in 1940, Ribbentrop, Hitler's Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, came to Rome and had an audience with Pius XII, the 
Pope protested the Nazi persecutions in Poland and asked the 
Nazi government's permission to appoint an apostolic visitor to 
the German-occupied Polish territories, a request which was re 

Pius XII was not content to appeal only to governments; he 
organized a positive and practical program of relief in the form 
of food and clothing for populations suffering from the losses 
and displacements of war. Since Poland was the first victim, the 
Polish people received his first help. Later this program was ex 
tended to Italy, to France, to prisoner-of-war camps in Europe, 
Asia, America, Africa and Australia and after the war to German 
territories, regardless of by whom they were occupied. As long as 
it was possible papal help reached the Russian-occupied countries: 
Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland. Most of 
this help to the Iron Curtain countries was carried out by the 
War Relief Services of the National Catholic Welfare Conference 
of the United States and made possible through the generous 
contribution of American Catholics. We have noted in an earlier 

The Modern Popes 57 

chapter 1 the important achievements of the Vatican Office of In 
formation which not only located millions of missing persons and 
prisoners of war but helped thousands of persecuted people to 
escape and find safe haven. 

After the war ended Pius XII threw himself into a great work 
of reconstruction which has gone on until the present time. So 
vast is it in scope that any attempt to do justice to it is outside 
the possibilities of this account, but we shall endeavor to give a 
brief summary of its highlights. His work of reconstruction was 
started by giving religious leaders to those regions which were 
without leadership. While hostilities lasted Pope Pius created no 
cardinals, but in 1946 he bestowed the red hat on thirty-two new 
cardinals (only four of them Italian); thus the non-Italians out 
number the Italians in the Sacred College. In 1953 he nominated 
twenty-three cardinals including thirteen Italians, giving the 
United States four cardinals for the first time. The new cardinals 
were mostly diocesan bishops who knew the spiritual and ma 
terial needs of their people and, through the newly strengthened 
organization of the Church, Pope Pius continued to send help 
to stricken areas in the form of food and clothing and grants for 
building in such devastated countries as Germany, France, Italy, 
Hungary and Poland indeed as far as to China and India. In 
many places this aid is continuing up to the present day. 

Although he knew that any optimism regarding a possible 
Communist change of heart would be mistaken, during the hos 
tilities Pope Pius did not make any major pronouncements re 
garding Communism, in order to avoid the interpretation of such 
a message as an incitement to continue war against the Russian 
people. The ideology of Marxist atheism, however, he condemned 
in his Christmas message of 1942. When Communist imperialism 
showed its real face after the war Pius XII urged the world al 
most weekly to recognize the danger. Even then the Holy See 
did not initiate a specific battle against the newly-established 
regimes in the countries behind the Iron Curtain; it merely stated 
principles and the minimum requirements for freedom and hu 
man dignity. The action of Pius XII was twofold: i) to defend 
the populations of the Iron Curtain countries against open or 
cleverly veiled Communist oppression; 2) to save misled and mis- 

1 Ch. i, p. ii. 


informed masses in free countries from Communist influence. In 
this connection he continually preached the necessity of the ap 
plication of the true Christian social doctrines, because only 
through these could be created an effective and positive defense 
line against Communism. 

When the Communists exterminated the hierarchy of the 
Ruthenian (Ukrainian) Catholic Church, he lifted his voice in his 
encyclical Orientates Omnes under date of December 23, 1945. 
He denounced the trial and imprisonment of Archbishop, later 
Cardinal, Stepinac of Yugoslavia in a speech delivered before 
the Rota on October 6, 1946, and during the trial of Cardinal 
Mindszenty he issued various pronouncements of protest and 
warning. As the Communist war against religion continued the 
Pope went further: he punished the responsible persons by ex 
communication. The decree of the Sacred Congregation of the 
Holy Office and the Sacred Congregation of the Council con 
demned apostate or pseudo-Catholic priest movements in Czecho 
slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia, and the Pope im 
mediately appointed new bishops to replace those imprisoned. 
Although many of these new appointees could not exercise their 
office because of hindrance by the Communist rulers, he en 
couraged the hierarchy, clergy and people of these countries in 
many apostolic letters. 

At the same time the Pope laid down for the people and clergy 
of free countries principles for their conduct toward Commu 
nism. In 1945 the Congregation of the Consistory directed bishops 
to inform their people that they should not give their votes to 
candidates who were enemies of the Church, and on July i, 1949, 
the Congregation of the Holy Office gave new and practical rules 
to clergy and Christian people regarding their attitude to Com 
munism. A further decree issued by the Holy Office on July 28, 
1950, warned against the dangerous influence of Communist 
youth organizations. 

In his pronouncements Pius XII has touched upon some of the 
most important problems of theology. The teaching office of the 
Church is thrown into a sharp light in Humani generis, an en 
cyclical calling attention to the dangers of science when com 
pletely detached from religion. The encyclical Mystici Corporis 
gives an enlightening exposition of the Church's doctrine regard 
ing the Mystical Body; Mediator Dei is a systematic treatise on 

The Modern Popes 59 

liturgical theology; the apostolic constitution Sacramentum Or- 
dinis concerns the essence of the sacrament of Holy Orders; the 
encyclical Munificentissimus Deus defines the dogma of the As 
sumption of the Blessed Virgin; another encyclical, Sempitermts 
Rex, issued on the occasion of the fifteenth centenary of the 
Council of Calcedonia, refutes recent misinterpretations of the 
mystery of the Incarnation. 

No less important has been the activity of Pius XII in the 
fields of science and culture. He has continued to follow with 
great interest the work of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 
revived by his predecessor, Pius XI, and has grasped every oc 
casion to stress its importance. He has given many important 
speeches to scientific groups gathered in Rome, and certain of 
these papal utterances are regarded as landmarks in giving the 
true views of the Church on highly controverted matters. His 
speech before the astro-physicists, stating that there is no conflict 
between the findings of modern cosmology and the Scriptures, 
was as important as his contribution to the understanding of 
modern psychiatry or the proper evaluation of thermo-nuclear 
studies. There are very few fields in modern science which have 
not been touched upon by Pius XII. 

Equally remarkable has been his activity in other religious- 
cultural fields, including jurisprudence. He sponsored the transla 
tion of the Psalms from the original texts, a work carried out by 
the Pontifical Biblical Institute; as we have already stated, he gave 
orders for the continuation of excavations under the Confession 
of St. Peter's which resulted in finding the burial place of the 
Prince of the Apostles. He made the first modifications in the 
Code of Canon Law since its codification under Pius X and 
provided for the publication of the volumes containing the Code 
of Canon Law for the Oriental Church. 

Important declarations for the safeguard of the sacrament of 
Matrimony and of the family have been made by Pope Pius. In 
his utterances regarding social problems he followed in the foot 
steps of his predecessors, putting emphasis more and more upon 
the human person and pointing out that through the enlargement 
of the power of modern governments human rights are jeopard 
ized even by certain democratic regimes. He did not cease, of 
course, to condemn totalitarian forms of governments. Regarding 
the problem always from the point of view of the human person 


who possesses an immortal soul, the Pope urged the establishment 
of economic and social conditions that would allow the proper 
development of man's legitimate earthly as well as supernatural 
aims. In his radio message of September i, 1944,, he condemned 
economic, social and capitalist regimes which do not conform to 
the exigencies of social justice. 

Innumerable directives issued by Pius XII have introduced 
timely reforms into the inner life of the Church. He gave permis 
sion for the celebration of Mass during the afternoon and evening 
hours, a practice now worldwide; he made various changes in 
the fasting laws; he restored the ancient liturgy of Holy Week 
which allows a greater participation by the laity in these serv 
ices; he reformed the breviary and made other liturgical changes. 
Of historical importance is his reform of certain aspects of the 
education of priests and members of religious orders, also the 
modernization of the life of members of religious congregations 
of women. 

The solution of difficult problems in the mission field and in 
the Oriental Church has been accelerated by administrative re 
forms introduced by Pius XII. He declared on various occasions 
that the Church cannot and should not be identified with Western 
civilization alone; the Church is universal. This is further ex 
pressed by his policy of raising to the hierarchy natives of coun 
tries which were formerly colonies of the western powers. Bish 
ops of various races have been appointed, and the Sacred College 
of Cardinals counts a Chinese and an Indian among its members. 
In addition to these matters Pius XII has kept a constant watch 
on international events and under his personal direction for he 
did not replace Cardinal Maglione, the Papal Secretary of State 
who died in 1944, and has since acted as his own Secretary of 
State the Holy See has continued its work for peace and under 
standing throughout the world. During his reign friendly and 
diplomatic relations between Rome and the governments of nations 
have been extended. Many more non-Catholic and non-Christian 
countries have come to see the advantages of establishing and 
maintaining diplomatic relations with the Holy See; these include 
India, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan. 

When in December, 1954, Pope Pius XII was afflicted with a 
grave malady, it is no exaggeration to say that the world watched 
with anxiety for news from the Vatican. His recovery was greeted 

The Modern Popes 6 1 

with universal joy and the celebrations on the occasion of his 
eightieth birthday in March, 1956, gave striking evidence both of 
the extraordinary prestige of the Holy See and the respect and 
veneration that Pius XII enjoys not only from Catholics but from 
countless others outside the membership of the Church. 

Despite his age and the severe illness, from which he appears 
to have made an almost complete recovery, the Holy Father's 
activities continue to be amazing. It is estimated that in the year 
1957 he received in audience nearly nine hundred thousand per 
sons from all over the world. He delivered 98 speeches and radio 
messages, including those to members of religious or occupational 
and professional organizations whom he addressed in discourses 
applicable to their status and work. Thirty-eight of the addresses 
were in French, 24 in Italian, n in Spanish, 15 in English, 6 in 
German, 2 in Portuguese and 2 in Latin. 

The Pope issued one apostolic constitution and four encyc 
licals in the course of the same year. The encyclicals concern the 
third centenary of the martyrdom of St. Andrew Bobola; the 
coming centenary of the Marian apparitions at Lourdes (1958); 
motion pictures, radio and television. The fifth of these encyc 
licals, on the missions of the Church and especially those in Af 
rica, denoted a constant preoccupation of the Papacy and fore 
shadowed notable changes in the Curia and increased activity in 
the spreading of the Gospel in mission lands. 


PERHAPS THE BEST way to gain a realization of the com 
plex yet highly unified organism over which the Pope rules with 
absolute authority, is to follow the Pontiff through a typical 
working day, as the agenda of all the modern Popes is ruled by 
the same pattern. For the Pope, as for all bishops or priests, 
whether they are the spiritual rulers of immense multitudes or 
serve only a mission chapel in some remote wilderness, the first 
and foremost action of the day is the offering of the holy Sac 
rifice of the Mass. Then after breakfast the modern Popes have 
taken air and exercise in the Vatican Gardens or in the corridors 
adjoining the gardens. The morning usually is occupied by cor 
respondence and receiving their closest collaborators and one or 
more of the heads of the Sacred Congregations (because each 
Congregation must report once a week). These prelates bring to 
the Pope the digested summaries of reports received from the 
papal nuncios, apostolic delegates and envoys who represent the 
Holy See in countries with which it has formal relations. How 
ever, these daily conferences cover a much wider area than that 
defined by the formal inter-relation of the Holy See and secular 
governments. The Pope receives every day a summary of world 
events drawn from press clippings as well as private reports. Thus 
the daily conferences shape the supreme policies of the Catholic 
Church in connection with its operations as a sovereign power 
dealing with other sovereign powers and with still other matters 
which affect human souls. 

The next group to have audiences with the Pope are the heads 

The Pope At Work the Papal Court 63 

of the various departments of the Vatican administration. Next 
begins a series of conferences with visiting cardinals, archbishops 
and bishops, who bring information or suggestions regarding not 
only the ecclesiastical affairs of their dioceses but also informa 
tion on the political or economic situation of their respective 
countries. Then follow the visits of high ecclesiastics and diplo 
mats accredited to the Holy See, who have applied for and have 
been granted audiences with the Pope. All these conferences 
are regulated by a strict law of precedence, immemorial traditions 
of etiquette combined with practical methods produced by cen 
turies of experience to regulate the complex business of the Pope's 
daily conduct of his affairs. No doubt at times the mechanics 
creak here and there; nevertheless, it is on the whole a marvel of 

In addition to his ecclesiastical and diplomatic visitors, the 
Pope must receive lay groups or individuals, non-Catholic as well 
as Catholic, who for various reasons possess a claim upon his time 
and attention. These visitors range from visiting monarchs, heads 
of States, heads of governments, distinguished figures in world 
affairs, science and the arts, to humble and obscure people who 
come only to receive the apostolic blessing. These audiences con 
tinue until time for the midday meal, and on certain days the 
Pope may receive in general audience thousands of people at an 
hour in the afternoon. 

A word regarding the strict regulation of audiences may here 
be in order. The audiences called tabella are those established by 
routine and are given only to those officials of the Congrega 
tions and the Secretariat of State who reside in Rome. They all 
know when their turn comes. The Pope likewise grants private 
audiences to government representatives, cardinals and bishops, 
who come on official business. It is, of course, his prerogative to 
receive others in private audience, and these audiences are often 
given. The private audience takes place in the library of the Pope 
which is a study one flight below his private apartment in the 
Vatican Palace. Special audiences are those in which the Pope 
walks through a series of rooms adjoining the library and addresses 
himself to individuals or small groups. Public or general audiences 
are held in one of the large halls of the Vatican Palace, at Castel- 
gandolfo, sometimes in St. Peter's basilica. The pilgrims kneel 
when the Pope appears and kiss his ring as he walks along the lines 


blessing the throng, often addressing a few words to those pre 
sented to him by members of his suite. Occasionally he ends the 
audience by delivering an address and this always attracts world 
wide attention. 

After the midday meal, retiring for an hour or a little more, 
the Pope performs a duty which he shares with his bishops and 
priests: that of reading the Divine Office from his breviary. Fol 
lowing this interlude of prayer and meditation, the Holy Father 
goes back to his audiences and conferences. Many Popes have 
broken off work in the afternoon for at least an hour spent in the 
Vatican Gardens. Dinner around eight o'clock is followed by 
evening prayers, conversations, reading or discussion. 

The activities of such a routine day do not include the even 
more strenuous duties and unceasing strain upon his energies and 
endurance which the Pope must often face on the many occasions 
of great religious functions in which he is the principal figure 
pontifical Mass in St. Peter's on Easter Sunday or some other 
great feast, or canonization ceremonies which are so frequent dur 
ing the Holy Years. A canonization will often last from 8 A.M. 
until i P.M., including the Mass which the Pope must celebrate 
fasting, dressed in heavy robes, wearing the cumbrous miter on 
his head, or the massive triple crown. 

Nor have we tried to examine a host of other responsibilities 
and duties which pertain to his position. He administers the rev 
enues of the Holy See without accounting to any one; and while 
there is ample assistance for him so far as the routine work in this 
task is concerned, upon the Pope alone final responsibility and 
authority rests, and he is constantly obliged to make the most 
weighty decisions. Moreover, he must rule the State of Vatican 
City through the Pontifical Commission appointed by him; he 
must attend the meetings of those Congregations, three in num 
ber, of which he is the Prefect; he oversees the religious adminis 
tration of the diocese of Rome, and of the Roman Province, 
through his Cardinal Vicar. 

Pius XIFs day of work differs from the day of Pius XI or 
Benedict XV or Pius X only inasmuch as the present Pope's 
temperament differs from theirs and to the extent that modern 
life imposes an acceleration of activity on everyone including the 
members of the Curia and the Pope. Pius XII rises at 6:15; the 
people of his native city call him the earliest riser of Rome. Like 

The Pope At Work the Papal Court 65 

Pius XI he shaves himself, using an electric razor. At 7:30 the 
Pope enters his private chapel and celebrates Mass, very often 
assisted by his long-time personal valet,, Giovanni Stefanori, who 
grew up in the shadow of the Vatican and as a child was an altar 
boy at Saint Peter's Basilica. The Pope's chapel is simple, and 
contains, besides the altar, a statue of the Madonna, a painting and 
a priedieu. After his own Mass the Pope often attends a second 
Mass said by one of his secretaries and, after a simple breakfast, 
around 8:30 he descends to the second floor and into his private 
library or study, the apartment in which he holds private audi 
ences. The work begins. 

The first prelates to report to him are Monsignor Domenico 
Tardini, Pro-Secretary of State, and Monsignor Angelo DelPAcqua, 
Substitute Secretary of State (the first can be considered his Minis 
ter of Foreign Affairs and the other his Minister of Interior). 
Then the interminable, tiring but important line of audiences and 
conversations begins; they are carried out in the same way as in 
the time of his predecessors, with the difference that in our times 
the problems are more pressing and numerous. In the private li 
brary of Pius XII there is a large desk, and beside the desk a smaller 
table with two telephones. One, gilded and with the papal coat-of- 
arms, is a gift of the American Telephone and Telegraph Com 
pany which installed all the telephones in the Vatican; the other 
instrument on the table is a simple black dial telephone. Pius XI 
did not use the telephone often, although he liked to use the dicta 
phone. Pius XII, however, uses it quite frequently, calling and 
dialing his collaborators. He never announces himself, but the per 
son whom he calls recognizes at once the voice of the Pope. The 
Pope calls the outside world too, and one case is well known: In 
September 1955, when Konrad Adenauer, the Chancellor of Ger 
many whom the Pope esteems highly, became ill, Pius XII per 
sonally telephoned to the German ambassador to the Holy See to 
inquire about the state of Dr. Adenauer's health. 

If the morning has not been too busy, the Pope eats his mid 
day meal at i P.M., a meal usually consisting of a vegetable soup, 
one piece of broiled meat or boiled fish and a piece of fresh 
fruit; all in miniature portions. At 2:30 he takes his daily walk in 
the Vatican Gardens. He descends from his private apartment 
into the Saint Damasus courtyard where his car is waiting to 
take him to the top of the Vatican Hill, and there he walks for 


never more than an hour; in certain cases, after an illness, it is 
only a few minutes. While the Pope walks he does not cease 
work, but reads official papers or makes notes for a speech. 
After the walk he returns to his library where he remains until 
around 6 P.M. when he enters his chapel to say the rosary. His 
supper ordinarily consists of eggs and vegetables and a piece of 
bread, whereupon he usually listens to the radio and then returns 
to his desk in his study to work sometimes until 2 A.M. People 
walking in St. Peter's Piazza may see his windows which are the 
only lighted ones in the Vatican Palace. Often he gives not more 
than four hours to sleep. 

The Papal Family 

The dignity and authority of the Roman pontificate impose 
upon it the necessity of independence and a certain ceremony in 
keeping with its sovereign state. It is not perhaps far-fetched to 
see a beginning of the Papal Court in the escort of priests and 
laity who accompanied Pope St. Melchiades (311-14) to the first 
public council of the Church held at the Lateran, or in the 
servientes armorum attached by Constantine to St. Sylvester 
(314-15). As the Pope is today the spiritual sovereign of four 
hundred and eighty millions of peoples from every nation of the 
earth, his court is a reflection of the catholicity of the Church, 
and we find in his entourage natives of almost every country, 
representatives of the great religious orders, and, in general, of 
all those conglomerate elements that go to make up the universal 

The papal court, or the persons surrounding the Roman Pon 
tiff, are known as the Papal Household or Family (Famiglia). 
By this we understand all those ecclesiastics and laymen most 
intimately attached to the person of the Holy Father and in actual 
or honorary service in the Apostolic Palaces with positions recog 
nized in the protocol. The following list, however, would create 
a false impression were it not pointed out that actually only a 
few of these personages are in the daily service of the Holy See or 
of the Vatican State. The rest of them are called upon only for 
solemn functions. 

i. Coming first in the Papal Family are the two Palatine Car 
dinals: the Cardinal Datary and the Cardinal Secretary of State. 

The Pope At Work the Papal Court 67 

2. The next group is called the Noble Antechamber of His 
Holiness and is made up as follows: 

a. The Palatine prelates: the Majordomo of His Holiness; the 
Master of the Apostolic Camera; the Auditor of His Holiness; 
the Master of the Sacred Apostolic Palaces. 

b. The Master of the Sacred Hospice. 

c. The participating private chamberlains, prelates who actu 
ally perform daily service around the Pope. These are: the Master 
Almoner; the Secretary of Papal Briefs; the Secretary of the 
Cipher; the Sub-Chief of the Datary; the Secretary of Latin 
Letters; the Cupbearer (Coppiere); the Secretary of Embassies; 
the Guardian of Papal Vestments; the Sacristan of His Holiness, 
who is also his vicar for Vatican City. 

3. The third group is composed of those civilian private 
chamberlains participant, or actually in the service of the Pope, 
and who are called di spada e cappa, meaning that they have the 
right to wear cape and sword during solemn functions. These 
are: the Quartermaster General (Foriere Major) of the Sacred 
Palaces; the Grand Equerry (Cavallerizzo Major) of His Holi 
ness; the Postmaster General; the Commander of the Noble 
Guard; the Commander of the Swiss Guard. 

4. This group comprises the Assistants at the Throne (chosen 
by the Pope among Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops); the 
protonotaries; prelates of the Roman Curia. 

5. The following make up the rest of the Pontifical Family: 
Domestic prelates. 

All members of the Noble Guard. 
Private chamberlains. 
Honorary chamberlains. 

The officers of the Swiss and Palatine Guards and the officers 
of the Papal Gendarmes. 

Private chaplains and honorary private chaplains. 

Nonresident honorary chaplains. 

Private clerics. 

Ordinary pontifical chaplains. 

The Apostolic Preacher. 

The Confessor of the Pontifical Family. 

The Physician of His Holiness. 

His valet (Aiutmte di Camera). 


The BussolantL 

Quartermaster (Decano di Sola). 

The military household of His Holiness consists of the Noble 
Guard, the Swiss Guard, the Palatine Guard and the Pontifical 
Gendarmes. The members of the Noble Guard, who are com 
posed of about two hundred members of titled Italian families, 
rank immediately after the domestic prelates, and the officers of 
the other three corps after the chamberlains. A detachment of 
the Noble Guard precedes the Pope when he leaves his apartments 
and accompanies him in audiences and ceremonies. They are 
only present as a body on solemn occasions, such as pontifical 
Mass at St. Peter's, or the occasion of a jubilee. The corps is 
under the general direction of the Secretariat of State, and as far 
as daily service is concerned, under that of the Master of the 
Apostolic Camera. Its leader has the rank of lieutenant-general, 
and the principal officers of the Noble Guard are also chamberlains 
of the cape and sword; one of their number is the standard- 
bearer of the Holy Church a hereditary duty in the family of 
the Marquis Patrizi. It is a Noble Guard who carries the skull 
cap to newly-elected cardinals residing outside of Rome. 

The Swiss Guard (the design of whose colorful costume is 
variously ascribed to Michelangelo or Raphael), is really Swiss, 
members of families of the Catholic cantons of their country. 
They were first recruited by Julius II in the sixteenth century, 
and in later centuries fought nobly in the cause of the Pontifical 
States. Since the re-establishment of temporal power in 1929, 
they have resumed their former functions as guardians of the 
frontier of the papal domain. They are also guards of the Apos 
tolic Palaces, but may not penetrate farther than the first ante 
chamber. They number about 120 men under command of a 
colonel, and enlist for five years, after which they return to 

The Palatine Guard was founded at a much later date, receiv 
ing its title from Pius IX in 1859; ^ was organized along the line 
of the old capoti, or city militia. These guards are on duty in the 
service of the antechamber, in parades, pontifical chapels and 
wherever else the Holy Father is present with ceremony. They 
are around three hundred in number and belong for the most 
part to Roman families of the middle class; as a rule they do not 
reside in the Vatican. 

The Pope At Work the Papal Court 69 

The Papal Gendarmes, on the other hand, who assist in the 
guard of the person of the Sovereign Pontiff and to the order 
and safety of the Apostolic Palaces, are lodged in the Vatican 
with their families. They are especially useful in directing visitors 
through the labyrinthine halls of the Vatican,, and certain of their 
number are exclusively employed in police service within the City 

The Pontifical Chapel 

The personages and colleges that in great Church and public 
ceremonies make a part of the cortege of the Pontiff are called 
the Pontifical Chapel. They are primarily all those who make up 
the Pontifical Family and comprise, in order of precedence: the 
Sacred College of Cardinals; the College of Patriarchs, Archbishops 
and Bishops assisting at the Throne; the Vice-Camerlengo of the 
Holy Roman Church; Princes assisting at the Throne (Prince 
Colonna and Prince Orsini) ; the General Auditor of the Apostolic 
Camera; the General Treasurer of the same office; the assessors 
and secretaries of the Sacred Congregations who are not cardinals; 
the prelates of the Holy Roman Rota; the prelates of the Secre 
tariat of State of His Holiness; archbishops and bishops who are 
not assistants to the Papal Throne; Apostolic protonotaries; the 
prelate Commendatore of Santo Spirito (head of hospital-chap 
lains of Rome); the Regent of the Chancery; the Abbot nullius 
of Monte Cassino and other abbots and prelates nullius; the abbots 
general of monastic orders and canons regular in the order given 
in the Annuario Pontificio; the generals and vicar generals of 
mendicant orders; the Master of the Sacred Hospice; the prelate 
auditors of the Rota; the Master of the Pontifical Palace; the prel 
ate clerics of the Apostolic Camera; voting prelates of the Signa- 
tura; private and honorary lay chamberlains; the Consistorial ad 
vocates; the private and honorary chaplains and private clerics of 
His Holiness; the procurator generals of the mendicant orders; 
the Apostolic Preacher; the Confessor of the Pontifical Family; 
procurators of the Sacred Apostolic Palaces. 

The Ministers assisting at the functions of the Pontifical 
Chapel are: the Sacristan of His Holiness; the canons of the three 
patriarchal basilicas who serve as assistant priest, deacon and sub- 
deacons in Pontifical Masses; the Pontifical Choir; acolytes and 
thurifers; the Clerk of the Pontifical Chapel; the master bearers 


of the Virga rubea or red rod, so called because of the batons 
they carry; the custodian of tiaras; the mace-bearers who are 
generally goldsmiths of Rome (Raphael and Benvenuto Cellini 
were mace-bearers and the latter modeled and engraved a mace 
for his own use which may still be seen at the Vatican); the 
apostolic cursores or ushers. 

A great many of this vast number of persons, it should be 
stated again, live outside the Vatican limits. Before great pontifical 
ceremonies the principal personages in this papal cortege, such 
as the cardinals, bishops and prelates, assemble in a large chamber 
called the robing hall, near the vesting room where the Pontiff 
himself puts on his robes, and take their place in the papal proces 
sion in the order given above. So great are the traditions created 
by the accretions of the ages, and the association of habits based 
on temporal and spiritual power, that it is difficult to disentangle 
the different threads of these various offices; but it should be noted 
that the same person may occupy both a position at the Papal 
Court and a position in the government of the universal Church. 


WHILE SUPREME and absolute authority over the gov 
ernment of the Church rests in the hands of the Pope, he is as 
sisted by auxiliaries or counselors and organized bodies entrusted 
with delegated authority and charged with the gravest responsi 
bilities and duties. Chief among these the Princes of the Church 
are the members of the Sacred College of the Cardinals, more 
particularly, the cardinals of the Curia. This body is constituted 
of those cardinals, at present some fifteen in number, who reside 
in Rome and take a regular part in the administration of the 

When there are no vacancies, the Sacred College should num 
ber seventy members, the limit having been fixed in 1586 by 
Sixtus V in recollection of the fact that Moses chose this number 
of wise men to aid him in the government of Israel. Its origin, 
however, goes back to the chief personages of the Roman clergy 
during the first centuries of Christendom. The word cardinal 
comes from cardo, or hinge. It might be said that upon these 
dignitaries swing the doors of the Church, since it is from among 
them that the Pope is selected, a turning-point of basic importance. 
The color of their official robe symbolizes their vow to serve the 
Church even unto the shedding of their blood. 

The Pope chooses the cardinals in all liberty as he is the 
supreme legislator of the Church; no canon code can restrain him 
if he wishes to disregard it. Nevertheless, the Code of Canon 
Law makes certain restrictions regarding these appointments 
which reflect the general intentions of the Papacy. 


The Three Orders of Cardinals 

First of all the cardinals must be priests. Although it had been 
the general custom for centuries, this was an innovation in the 
Canon Code of igiy. 1 How then does it happen that there are 
"cardinal-deacons," and that the members of the Sacred College 
are divided into cardinal-bishops, cardinal-priests, and cardinal- 
deacons? In early times the Bishop of Rome had presbyters who 
helped in his administrative tasks and whose duties generally lay 
in administrative and charitable fields in seven regions of Rome 
each containing an edifice (diaconeria) for the reception of the 
poor and close by a church. Once a week these presbyters were 
called upon to leave their diaconal churches to assist at liturgical 
functions in one of the principal papal basilicas of Rome, so that 
they were considered as a part of the papal services. Cardinal- 
deacons used in reality to be deacons, but the term is today ap 
plied to the titularies of the old diaconal churches of Rome. In 
this connection it is well to recall that the Sovereign Pontiff as 
signs to every new cardinal, even if he resides far from Rome, one 
of the Roman churches corresponding to those presided over by 
the assistants of the Popes of the early ages. With very rare ex 
ceptions the cardinal-deacons have always resided in Rome, and 
assist the Pope as do a certain number of cardinal-bishops and 
cardinal-priests in the administrative work of the Church and in 
the Roman Congregations. It is usually the dean or head of the 
cardinal-deacons who burns the voting papers at the conclaves for 
the election of a new Pope and who later announces the election 
to the crowd awaiting in the Piazza of St. Peter's. 

The cardinal-priests are the successors of the first pastors of 
Rome and titulary of some Roman church where, even if they 
reside abroad (as they usually do), their portrait is constantly ex 
posed. A great number of the cardinal-priests have received epis 
copal consecration, being either the bishop or archbishop of 
some diocese in another part of the Catholic world, or a former 
papal nuncio or legate. But there are always a certain number of 
plain priests among them. 

Cardinal-bishops are the heads of the suburban dioceses of 

1 The last member of the Sacred College not to have been ordained was 
Cardinal Mertel who died in 1899 under the pontificate of Leo XIII. His status 
was considered almost an archeological curiosity. 

The Cardinals 

Rome. These have been the same from time immemorial, and 
are as follows: Ostia and Porto, Albano, Frascati, Palestrina, Sa- 
bina^and Velletri. Although the last of the three categories of 
cardinals to be established, the cardinal-bishops naturally outrank 
the other two. 

Each of the three orders of cardinals possesses a chief who 
has special functions, and the chief of the order of cardinal- 
bishops (who is in fact the oldest in his tenure of the cardinalate 
and who since the fourth century has been the Bishop of Ostia), 
is the Dean of the Sacred College. It is this dignitary who first 
places on the head of the newly-elected Pope the tiara with three 

When a vacancy occurs in the Sacred College, the cardinals 
of the same order, that is bishop, priest or deacon, also residing 
in Rome and next to the deceased in standing, have the right to 
choose between the "title" he holds and the vacant one. The 
oldest cardinal-deacon may choose the last vacant title among the 
cardinal-priests, and the oldest cardinal-priest may likewise choose 
that of the last cardinal-bishop. 2 

Who are Made Cardinals? 

There is no age limit for appointment to the cardinalate, but 
since all cardinals must now be priests, this condition implies an 
other. To be ordained in the Catholic Church, a priest must have 
completed his twenty-fourth year, and a cardinal-bishop must 
have passed the age of thirty, this being the minimum canonical 
age for the episcopal honor. But this rule has not always been in 
force; the history of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance 
shows us mere children wearing the red hat. In the fifteenth, six 
teenth, and seventeenth centuries, cardinals of twenty years and 
even of seventeen and sixteen were not rare. For several centuries, 
however, the Popes have rarely appointed anyone to the Sacred 
College not of ripe years and already of prominence for his learn 
ing, his virtues and high position in the episcopacy, or among 
those who have rendered great service to the Holy See in matters 
of administration or diplomacy. 

In terms of the canon code at present in force, the Sovereign 
Pontiff chooses only men "remarkable for their doctrine, piety 

2 A curious example in our day of a cardinal who has climbed these three 
steps of this hierarchy is Cardinal Tisserant now Dean of the Sacred College. 


and prudence in the handling of affairs." Ecclesiastics who may 
not now enjoy the cardinalate dignity are: those of illegitimate 
birth, fathers of families even when they enter orders after the 
death of their lawful wives, or the brothers, uncles, nephews and 
first cousins of any living cardinal. We must repeat: these rules 
do not bind the Pope in an absolute manner, but they show the 
general intention of the Church in the matter. 

The cardinals are the most important councilors of the Pope, 
yet the Sacred College of Cardinals cannot be considered as a 
parliament or senate of the Church in the usual sense because the 
cardinals do not possess the power of deliberation without the 
consent of the Pope; they act only as his consultants. They can 
not instigate a proceeding which is not wanted by the Pope and 
they cannot impede the decisions of the Pontiff. 

The very idea of the cardinalate, i.e., councilors to the Pope 
and his aides in the government of the Church, would seem to 
imply that the members of the Sacred College reside near him in 
Rome. Such was in fact the ancient custom: all cardinals resided 
in Curia. After the Great Schism (the period of the anti-popes 
from 1378-1417) which gave rise to the abuses of accumulative 
benefices and the abandonment of residence by bishops, numerous 
cardinals came to Rome to sit in the Curia, but continued to en 
joy the revenues of their dioceses. This state of affairs was done 
away with in the reforms of the sixteenth century the Council 
of Trent insisting upon the necessity of prelates charged with the 
care of souls dwelling among their flock, an obligation stronger 
than that of residence in the Curia. 

Nevertheless, the old tradition that cardinals should remain 
near the Pope has left its trace in the present Code of Canon Law. 
First, a cardinal who is also a bishop must have, upon his eleva 
tion to the Sacred College, a special dispensation to keep his see, 
because the promotion to the cardinalate ipso facto renders va 
cant any other position previously filled by the new dignitary. 
Furthermore, even when dispensed by the Pope from residence 
in Rome, foreign cardinals once more fall under his power the 
moment that they put foot in the papal city and may not return 
home without the positive authorization of the Pontiff. As for the 
Cardinals of the Curia, the old rule has remained the same; they 
may not leave Rome without the permission of the Sovereign 
Pontiff. 5 

The Cardinals - . 

The Pope is absolutely free to select the cardinals where he 
pleases. 3 It is necessary, of course, that there should be a great 
number of cardinals in Rome, for it is the seat of the government 
of the Church, of the Sacred Congregations to which are referred 
all matters of the innumerable dioceses throughout the world, but 
the Sovereign Pontiff also chooses many foreign cardinals in ac 
cordance with the provision of the Council of Trent, session 
XXIV, chap, i, which requires that cardinals, in so far as possible, 
be chosen from all nations. 

It is not, however, for political reasons that the matter of "rep 
resentation" in the Sacred College is of interest to the Holy See. 
There are far higher, more spiritual matters involved than those 
of the political sphere. The ideal of the universal Church, in 
which all races and all nations are unified by their allegiance to its 
spiritual and moral teachings, dominates the world action of the 
Papacy. The fact that Rome has been for two thousand years the 
Sacred City of the Church explains why the majority of the Popes 
and cardinals have been Italians. Nevertheless this fact does not 
affect the principle that all other nations should take part in, and 
share, the labors of administering the high command of the 

Upon the death of Gregory XVT (1846), there were eight 
foreign cardinals; Pius IX, in the thirty-two years of his pontifi 
cate, created 123 cardinals, choosing fifty-one outside of Italy at 
his death in 1878 there were twenty-five foreign Eminences. 
There were also twenty-five on the death of Leo XIII in 1903 
(one from the United States, Cardinal McCloskey) in contrast to 
thirty-nine Italian cardinals. In 1914, on the death of Pope Pius 
X, there were thirty-two Italian cardinals and twenty-five foreign 
cardinals (by this time three from the United States Cardinals 
Farley, Gibbons and O'Connell). In 1915 the usual proportions 
were reversed: twenty-nine Italian cardinals and thirty-one foreign 
cardinals. During the reign of Pius XI at one time the division was 

3 There are certain episcopal sees whose incumbent is traditionally con 
nected with elevation to the cardinalate, although in each case it depends on 
whether the Popes wish to consider this tradition or not. Such bishoprics 
are: In the U.S.A., New York; in Italy, Turin, Venice, Milan, Florence, 
Palermo, Naples; in France, Paris, Toulouse, Marseilles; in Belgium, Malines 
and Antwerp; in Spain, Toledo; in Portugal, Lisbon; in England, Westminster; 
in Ireland, Armagh; in Germany, Munich and Cologne; in Hungary, Strigo- 
nium; in Poland, Cracow. 


equal: thirty-two Italians and thirty-two foreigners (it is rare that 
all seventy cardinalates have titularies, for vacancies occur rapidly 
in the ranks of the Sacred College, as many as ten being often 
vacant). However, in the two consistories of February, 1946 and 
January, 1953, Pius XII, in elevating a greater number of non- 
Italians to the cardinalate, wished to stress the supranational char 
acter of the Church, and declared on the second of these occasions: 
"What has guided us in the choice of new cardinals is the care that 
your Sacred College should be, in so far as possible, a living image 
of the entire Church, whose noble Senate it is called; indeed the 
Catholic Church ... is stranger to no nation, to no race; it be 
longs to all and embraces all in the same charity and the same 

Pius XII was the first Pope to provide all the continents, includ 
ing Australia, with cardinals. The Annuario Pontificio of 1956 
shows sixty-two members of the Sacred College, twenty-one Ital 
ians and forty-one foreigners, among them four from the United 
States: Cardinals Stritch, Mooney, Spellman and Mclntyre. 

Nomination of Cardinals 

Under the present procedure, promotions to the cardinalate 
occupy three consistories of the Church: the first and third secret, 
the second public. It was formerly the custom of the Pope to con 
sult each existing cardinal before these promotions, but modern 
Pontiffs choose their cardinals in all independence and are not 
obliged to consult the Sacred College. When the Sovereign Pon 
tiff has made his choice, he assembles the first secret consistory, 
makes an address announcing the names of those he proposes to 
elevate to the red hat, and then says as a matter of form: "Qwd 
vobis videtur?" or, "How does it seem to you?" This question 
receives no reply, the cardinals simply rising to express their as 
sent. The Pope then pronounces the formula: "Therefore, by the 
authority of Almighty God, that of the Apostles Peter and Paul 
and Our own, we create X ... Cardinal of the Holy Roman 

It sometimes happens that the Pope nominates a cardinal with 
out at once proclaiming his name in consistory, this being done 
when certain considerations, especially those of a political nature, 
make it advisable to keep such a selection secret until a more op 
portune moment. In such cases he announces in the first secret 

The Cardinals 77 

consistory when creating other cardinals in the usual manner, 
that there are one or more others whom he reserves in pectore, 
"in his breast," in Italian "in petto" This reservation in pectore 
confers no immediate right on the interested person; the Pope 
may even change his mind, and should he die before making 
public his choice, even if it is in writing and known to his suc 
cessor (as a matter of fact, the Sovereign Pontiff usually gives the 
name of this new cardinal in a closed envelope into the keeping of 
one of his confidants), the latter is not bound by it. There is no 
doubt that some cardinals in petto have never received the red 
hat, if indeed they ever knew of their secret dignity. The only 
effect of the Pope's reservation is to date the appointment of the 
cardinal concerned back to the time of his silent creation at the 
consistory in which the matter was first mentioned. The advantage 
of the procedure is to give precedence in the Sacred College to 
personages engaged in delicate work highly useful to the Holy See 
which might be frustrated by a premature announcement of their 
elevation to the cardinalate. 

Notification of Election 

In the usual course of events, the news of their election fol 
lowing the papal announcement in consistory, is conveyed to the 
new cardinals by a biglietto of the Papal Secretary of State. 
Shortly thereafter a master of ceremonies of the Vatican, wearing 
a violet cape, comes to notify them of the hour when the pope 
will bestow upon them the red biretta. This ceremony takes place 
in the Sala Reale of the Vatican in the presence of the other car 
dinals, and is not to be confounded with the presentation of the 
red hat at a public consistory. At the end of the minor ceremony, 
a dignitary of the pontifical court also remits the skullcap (zuc- 
chetto} to the new cardinal who, returning to his residence, re 
ceives the visits of high ecclesiastical dignitaries, the papal nobility 
and the diplomatic corps and other personalities of the papal court. 
The older cardinals do not make these visits but send their gentle 

If the newly-elected cardinal lives away from Rome, the biretta 
is carried to him by a special ablegate. The ceremony of bestow 
ing the biretta in these cases takes place according to prescribed 
rules and in certain countries in the presence of the chief of the 
State. Cardinal Ceretti, who was papal nuncio in Paris in 1925, re- 


ceived the biretta at the presidential residence of the Elysee in 
the presence of M. Gaston Doumergue, a Protestant president, 
who not being able canonically to perform the ceremony himself, 
had the biretta bestowed by Cardinal Dubois, archbishop of Paris. 
The red hat, however, may not be sent in this manner and is only 
given by the Holy Father himself. Cardinals created abroad 
should go to Rome for it within the year, and it is granted at the 
first consistory following their arrival. The red skullcap is di 
rectly transmitted to a foreign cardinal by a member of the Noble 
Guard who has made the trip for the purpose. 

The traditional ceremonies connected with the bestowing of 
the biretta or the red hat itself are honored by the Church when 
possible, but they are not considered essential when some major 
hindrance exists. Archbishop Stepinac of Yugoslavia was created 
cardinal at the consistory of 1953, but to this date has been unable 
to receive his cardinal's hat or biretta, because although the Com 
munist authorities have released him from imprisonment, he has 
since been confined to a village which he is not permitted to 
leave. He is nevertheless considered a cardinal of the Holy Roman 
Church. Earlier, in 1946, it was impossible for a member of the 
Noble Guard to take even the zucchetto to Cardinal Mindzenty 
of Hungary, for the simple reason that no representative of the 
Pope and very few foreigners of any kind were granted permis 
sion to enter the countries behind the Iron Curtain. The Cardinal 
was, however, able to reach Rome in time for the consistory and 
the bestowal of the red hat by the Pontiff. 

Receiving the Red Hat 

In the usual procedure for cardinals residing in Rome, the 
first secret consistory takes place on a Monday; on the following 
Thursday the public consistory is held for the formal reception 
of the red hat according to more than seven-hundred-year-old 
rites established by Pope Innocent IV. A few moments before the 
opening of the assembly, the newly-elect take the customary 
oaths in the Sistine Chapel before three cardinals the heads of 
the orders of bishops, of priests and of deacons oaths prescribed 
by Popes Julius II, Pius V, Sixtus V and Gregory XV. 4 The pub 
lic consistory that follows was formerly held in the Sala Regia or 

4 This ceremony also on rare occasions may take place outside Rome, 
and it is then the apostolic nuncio who presides. 

The Cardinals 79 

Hall of the Consistory, but in 1946 and 1953 the red hat was be 
stowed by Pius XII in St. Peter's Basilica where the papal throne 
was installed at the end altar of the great apse. 

Now robed in purple, each of the new cardinals approach the 
throne accompanied by the two senior members of the Sacred 
College. Three times the new Princes of the Church bend their 
knees before the Sovereign Pontiff, kissing his foot, his hand, 
and finally receiving from him the double kiss of peace, which 
they in turn give to each of their colleagues. The new cardinals 
next take their place among the members of the Sacred College, 
but whereas the latter have on their heads only their skullcaps, the 
new cardinals wear the biretta to mark the fact that they are not 
yet part of the consistory. Then shortly after, they again proceed 
to the pontifical throne and kneel before the Pope. With his own 
hand he places the hat upon each cardinal, pronouncing the fol 
lowing formula: "For the glory of God Almighty and the orna 
ment of the Holy and Apostolic See, receive the red hat, the 
special insignia of the Cardinal's dignity; by this is signified that 
even to death and the shedding of blood you should show your 
courage for the exaltation of the holy Faith, the peace and tran- 
quility of Christian peoples, and the maintenance, increase and 
safeguard of the Holy Roman Church." 

At the secret consistory in the Sistine Chapel immediately fol 
lowing the public ceremony, takes place the interesting "opening 
and closing of the mouth" of the new cardinals, the vestige of a 
more ancient custom whereby a longer space of time occurred 
between the occlusio and the aperitio oris and the new cardinals 
went through a certain period of waiting, or a novitiate, before 
actually giving their opinions in consistory or the meetings of 
congregations. At the present time, however, the Pope commences 
the meeting of the second secret consistory by saying: "We close 
your mouth so that neither in consistory, nor in the congregations, 
nor in other functions as Cardinal can your advice be given." 
Then after a short pause, he says: "We open your mouth, so that 
in consistory, in congregations and in other functions as Cardinal 
you may give your advice." 

The Pope then places upon the finger of the new cardinal a 
sapphire ring and indicates to him the name of the Roman church 
of which he is to be the titulary a purely nominal charge, for the 
Cardinal Vicar of Rome is in reality responsible for the clergy of 


the church in question. As we have seen, however, every cardinal 
must have such a church, and in addition to having his portrait 
exposed there, he sends to it alms, very often of considerable 

The Cardinals Dress 

We commonly think of a cardinal robed from head to foot in 
brilliant red robes. 5 Now, with the sole exception of the red skull 
cap and biretta, the cardinals appear most often in other garb, and 
they wear their red cassocks only at great ecclesiastical cere 
monies when they are completed by the capfia magna, a magnifi 
cent mantle of scarlet silk, with opening for the head and with a 
cape of white ermine and a train 6 a beautiful and splendid cos 
tume, the creation of a poet in color. In Advent and Lent, or in 
times of mourning for a Pope (that is, during the time of the 
vacancy of the Holy See) cardinals wear violet robes, being then 
distinguished from simple bishops only by red buttons and trim 
mings. But red or violet, these cassocks are worn only at eccle 
siastical ceremonies. The street dress of a cardinal in Rome con 
sists of a black cassock with red bindings and buttons, a red girdle 
and red hose, and a black hat of the size usually worn by 
clerics, with red and gold band and tassels. At receptions and 
gala visits, this costume is completed by a great cape of red moire 
silk, to which we may add the red cap the cardinal always wears. 
In his own palace or apartments he wears this cap, leaving his 
biretta on a silver platter in the antechamber to show that he is at 

To repeat, the cap and biretta are the only distinctive details 
common to all members of the Sacred College, for cardinals be 
longing to religious orders retain the costume of their religious 

5 In Rome visitors are sometimes confused by the appearance of the stu 
dents of the Germanic College, familiarly called by the Romans "shrimps" or 
gawiberi cotti. It is true that they wear red, but their cassock is of a different 
shade from that of a cardinal being quite frankly carmine and it carries 
a black girdle. The story is that in days gone by these young clerics were 
so turbulent that they were given this brilliant and conspicuous garb in order 
to be more easily watched by the police. 

6 The length of their train was halved within recent years by Pius XII as 
part of a move to simplify the costumes of the cardinals. In the same- motu 
proprio he decreed that trains be no longer worn on the red or violet 
cassocks and that the violet robes worn in penitential seasons should hence 
forth be of wool and not of silk. 

The Cardinals 8 1 

family a Benedictine cardinal remains clothed in black, a Fran 
ciscan in gray (the primitive color of the Franciscans, since ex 
changed for brown or black by all members of the order save 
those who are bishops and cardinals). 

The "pontifical hat" of the cardinals conferred by the Pope 
at the public consistory is not worn but figures only on the follow 
ing occasions: at the creation of the cardinal; on Ms death when it 
is placed at the foot of his bier; at his funeral when it is carried 
usually by his valet, and finally it is hung from the roof of the 
choir of his cathedral above his tomb, where it remains until it 
falls to dust. (Thus we may see in St. Patrick's Cathedral in 
New York three red hats suspended from the ceiling above the 

There are many expenses connected with the cardinal's office, 
not only for his wardrobe, which is no trifling matter even with 
the simplifications made by the Pope in recent years, but many 
others. These are first encountered at the moment of his elevation, 
then upon receiving the red hat, and again at the time of his 
formal induction. He makes a substantial contribution to the 
Congregation of the Propaganda whose long-standing privilege it 
is to provide him with his sapphire ring; this contribution, often of 
sizable amount, is destined for the support of the missions. How 
ever, the largest financial contribution is usually that made to his 
titular church in Rome which is often very ancient and in need 
of repair. Cardinal Spellman, for instance, has made substantial 
offerings for the restoration of his titular church, Sts. John and 

The cardinals engaged in pastoral work outside Rome live in 
their own dioceses and have other sources of income. But the 
cardinals of the Curia at present fifteen in number are not in 
this position. A few of these have wealthy families or have money 
in their own right, but this is not always the case and sometimes 
they are without any personal funds. They must keep up a 
certain standard of living, and be decently lodged in an apartment 
or house with a cardinal's throne and chapel. There must be a 
chaplain and a gentleman-in-waiting to attend them at Vatican 

How are these expenses met? Since the Sacred College is a 
legal entity and has possessions of its own, the cardinals were 
earlier paid a salary from its funds, an amount supplemented by 


the Pope when this income was insufficient. This was called the 
piatto cctrdinalizio or the "cardinal's plate." At present the car 
dinals residing in Rome receive a monthly stipend from the Ad 
ministration of Ordinary Assets of the Holy See which is a modern 
office of financial and bureaucratic experts functioning under a 
Cardinalate Commission. 7 This sum, however, is hardly enough 
to cover all their expenses, and they receive a smaller sum from 
the various papal bureaus to which they are attached. Even so, the 
most rigid economy must be practiced by many of their number. 

A Cardinal's Privileges 

Among the ecclesiastical privileges of the cardinals are the fol 
lowing: They may hear confessions everywhere and absolve 
from censure, except in cases reserved to the Pope in a special 
manner, or which would involve the violation of the secrecy of 
the Holy Office; they may choose any priest as confessor for 
themselves or their intimates; preach anywhere without the au 
thorization of anyone; celebrate Mass anywhere they choose; 
officiate pontifically with cross and miter, throne and baldachin, 
even when they are not bishops and without notifying the bishop 
of the place unless the ceremony is to take place in his cathedral; 
consecrate churches, altars, bless abbeys, give confirmation and 
confer minor orders even if they have not themselves received the 
episcopal consecration. They take precedence over bishops and 
archbishops, patriarchs and nuncios of the Holy See. Since 1630, 
cardinals have borne the title of "Eminence," and in the interna 
tional protocol they enjoy the rank of royal princes given them by 
the Congress of Vienna (1815), and they may treat with rulers 
on a basis of equality. They are not allowed to use their episcopal 
staff in the presence of the Pope, for since he is the Bishop of 
Rome, the privilege of the episcopal staff is reserved only to 
him; bishops residing in Rome may use it only at the benediction 
at afternoon vespers or when a new bishop is consecrated. 

Their greatest prerogatives, however, are the election of the 
Pope 8 and participation in the general government of the Church. 
For we must not forget that the essential and original role of car- 

7 See pp. 138-42. 

8 At this time the Dean of the Sacred College has the quite nominal pre 
rogative of ordaining the newly-elected Pope if he has not yet received Holy 
Orders and of consecrating him if he is not already a bishop; more pertinent 
to our day it is the Dean who asks a newly-elected Pope whether he ac- 

The Cardinals 83 

dinals is to act as "councilors born" the extraordinary privilege, 
not generally known, of reporting authentically words pro 
nounced before them by the Sovereign Pontiff, But this is a right 
that is seldom exercised. 


A consistory is an assembly of cardinals presided over by the 
Pope: a consultative assembly where even a majority of votes 
does not carry an obligatory effect, and whose deliberations are 
simply to enlighten the Pontiff who alone makes the decisions. 
(The name "consistory" originally designated an assembly of the 
dignitaries of the Roman Empire under the chairmanship of the 
emperor and was later adopted for the consultative assemblies of 
the Popes.) Until 1870 the consistories were frequent and regular 
and many difficult matters were taken up and examined by them. 
But since the creation of the Sacred Congregations and the re 
sulting division of work among them, much of this is done in the 
ordinary routine of the various bureaus of the papal government. 
Nowadays the consistories are no longer organs of government 
and have become simple ceremonies; the cardinals rarely reply 
to the Pope's formal request for advice, their presence really serv 
ing to give more weight and dignity to the words and actions of 
the Pope. 

Nevertheless, all the forms of the ancient consistories are re 
tained. The day before, the cardinals are informed by a pontifical 
cursor of the hour of the assembly. They assemble at the stroke 
of an enormous clock, mentioned in various liturgical ceremonies 
as camp ana magna consist orialis. When the cardinals have taken 
their places in the hall, the Pope enters accompanied by his prel 
ates. At the end of a moment the "guardian of the consistory" 
says, "Extra omnes" or "All out," and the Holy Father remains 
alone with his council The supreme governing body of the 
Church is in session. 

Ordinarily the Pontiff addresses them in Latin upon some im 
portant ecclesiastical matter, such as the relations of the Holy See 
with a particular country, the signing of concordats, or the matter 
of some special field of Catholic action. Or he announces the names 
of legates appointed by him to represent him at some ceremony 

cepts the election. It is the privilege of the first cardinal deacon to announce 
the election of a new Pope to the people assembled in St. Peter's Square. 


or congress. If there are any, he proclaims new cardinals. In the 
case of a Holy Year, the Pope also announces in this address the 
date of its opening and he designates the cardinals who will 
solemnly open the "Holy Door" ordinarily walled up in the 
walls of St. Peter's Basilica. This pontifical address is usually 
given to the press, but sometimes publication is forbidden by the 
Holy See and silence imposed upon his auditors of the Sacred 

Occasionally in one of the secret consistories the Pope makes 
some such appointment as that of the Chamberlain or Treasurer 
of the Sacred College; should the post of Chancellor or that of 
Camerlengo of the Roman Church become vacant, it is in these 
secret consistories that a successor is named. These appointments 
are entirely at the discretion of the Pope. During the last years of 
the reign of Pius XI it was Cardinal Pacelli who held the title of 
Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. After his election 
Pius XII did not appoint a new Camerlengo; some of his functions 
may be exercised by the Vice Camerlengo of the Holy Roman 
Church, who is not a cardinal. 

The Holy Father then reads the list of promotions of arch 
bishops and bishops made since the last consistory, the Cardinal 
Chancellor recording them as secretary of the council. All these 
appointments and promotions are concluded by the formula we 
have already seen, "Quid vobis videtur?" but the reply is known 
in advance, the cardinals simply rising and bowing in assent. 

An exception in this matter occurs in the case of secret con 
sistories dealing with causes of beatification or canonization. The 
Sovereign Pontiff here turns the word over to the Cardinal- 
Prefect of the Congregation of Rites (q.v.); when the life, virtues 
and miracles of the candidates to liturgical honors are made 
known, the advice of each cardinal is asked. As these questions 
are so long and thoroughly examined beforehand, it usually hap 
pens that the reply is placet (agreed), but, in principle, the car 
dinal may reply in the negative. 

In the secret consistory the Pope accords the pallium to pa 
triarchs and metropolitans recently promoted, also to archbishops 
whom he wishes to honor in this way. At these times, the cardinals 
are also allowed to vote for another "title" for themselves, or for 
a vacant seat as cardinal-bishop. Sometimes two secret consistories 
take place in the same week, the second having especially as its 

The Cardinals 85 

object the "opening and closing of the mouth" of new cardinals, 
the bestowal of the rings and their titles to a Roman church. 

The public consistories are conducted with far more pomp 
and are attended not only by the cardinals, but by auditors of the 
Rota, prelates of the Signatura, masters of the Sacred Palaces, 
chamberlains, etc. In addition to the giving of the red hat to car 
dinals and the cross to legates charged with certain missions, mat 
ters of canonization are also taken up in these assemblies. The 
consistorial advocates, mostly laymen, plead in Latin the cause of 
their heavenly clients. Of course, the great bulk of investigation 
in these matters has been done elsewhere, but every beatified 
person in instance of canonization must have his cause pleaded in 
three separate public consistories, and one can say that these 
pleadings take up more time in these assemblies than anything 
else, although they are not allowed to continue uninterruptedly 
and are distributed among the other proceedings. 

To describe this procedure: at a given signal, the advocates 
advance in a body, accompanied by the secretary of the Congrega 
tion of Rites, before the throne of the Pope, and one of them be 
gins his discourse. Shortly after the master of ceremonies stops 
him and a group of cardinals leave the hall to seek in the chapel 
adjoining the newly-created cardinals about to receive the red 
hat. The advocate takes up his address after their departure, and 
is interrupted again when they return, and so on. Moreover, the 
advocates do not go unchallenged; the Promoter of the Faith who 
fills the role in beatifications and canonizations, of "devil's advo 
cate," calls attention to various proscriptions in the papal bulls, and 
the Pope usually returns the matter for further study and report 
by the Congregation of Rites. 

Beside the secret and public consistory, there is a semi-public 
one, much rarer and usually preceding the liturgical solemnities 
of canonization. It is not open to the public but attended, in 
addition to members of the Sacred College by other interested 
prelates, such as archbishops, patriarchs and foreign ecclesiastical 
dignitaries often in great numbers in Rome at these times, espe 
cially when the cause of some saint of their nation is under con 

The only matter taken up at the semi-public consistory is 
the approaching canonization, the Sovereign Pontiff wishing to 
have a last and solemn consultation in the matter. Generally the 


result is a foregone conclusion by this time; nevertheless those at 
tending are allowed to give their free opinion, replying by placet 
or non placet. After the consultation, the Pope usually announces 
the date when the formal ceremony of the canonization or beatifi 
cation will take place in the Basilica of St. Peter's. 

We may sum up by saying that formerly the actual business 
of the government of the Church was conducted in the con 
sistories, but since the foundation of the Sacred Congregations, the 
cardinals collaborate with the Pope in the measure that they take 
part in the work of these bodies. Every Congregation is headed 
by a cardinal, as well as most of the Offices and two of the Roman 
Courts (the Holy Roman Rota is the only tribunal which is not 
presided by a cardinal, nor has the Rota cardinals among its 
judges). Furthermore, every Congregation counts several cardi 
nals among its members; as a matter of fact, the cardinals are 
really the members, the other functionaries simply acting as their 
aides or auxiliaries. 

As soon as the Pope has conferred the red hat on a cardinal, 
he assigns him to one or more of these departments even for 
eign cardinals living away from Rome are so assigned, although 
their duties are merely nominal. We will now take up the actual 
division and work of the Congregations, Offices and Tribunals of 
the Roman Curia. 


IT is ESTIMATED that there are about 480,000,000 peo 
ple over whose spiritual interests the Catholic Church today has 
jurisdiction. These Catholics are distributed among all the races 
and nations and countries of the earth, and embrace the extremes 
of human culture and mental development. In some lands Cathol 
icism has been organized for nearly two thousand years; in others, 
it is gaining its first converts; in others again it is recovering 
strength lost in the past; in still others it is losing ground or is 
being persecuted. 

Everywhere, however, there are continually arising problems 
affecting the highest spiritual interests of human beings, which 
must be referred to the supreme authority of the Church for 
study and settlement. For, according to the Catholic doctrine, 
which binds together all this multitude, every man, woman and 
child has a personal work to do, a strict duty, which is superior 
to all other human works or duties: namely, the work of saving 
his soul and of obeying the laws of God as revealed by Him, 
and administered in this world by His Church. The practical 
problems which arise out of this primary obligation differ enor 
mously, but all of them whether it be the final determination 
of a dogma of the Faith, or a minor detail relating to ritual, or the 
business affairs of a missionary station are connected logically 
and, for a Catholic, essentially, with the primary spiritual purpose 
of salvation. 

Two other points should also be borne in mind when con 
sidering the organization of Church. First, that the Revelation 


delivered to the Church by Christ cannot in any way be changed, 
subtracted from, or added to. It is absolutely immutable. It must 
be held intact for all time. But, second, the circumstances of time 
and space, the growth or the decline of temporal things na 
tions, systems of secular government, social institutions, schools 
of philosophy, the discoveries of physical science are continu 
ally changing. Therefore, the instrumental agencies of the Church 
must be competent to serve the immutable things faithfully yet 
flexibly, and in accordance with circumstances. In the highest and 
most accurate sense of the words, they are expedients. Each 
branch of the Church's machinery is designed for the service of 
souls, and its decisions are neither quick nor haphazard, for time 
is taken to become acquainted with each problem and the person 
who presents the problem. 

No Catholic, of course, makes the claim for the Church that 
its operating organization is perfect, either as a whole, or in any 
of its parts, or that the organization cannot be changed or im 
proved. Indeed, the whole history of the Church is in one sense 
the record of the ups and downs, the partial successes, and the 
many failures of the human servants of the Church in the never- 
ending effort to implement its spiritual forces more and more 
effectively, or to reform its organization and modes of action. 

When, however, we gain some insight into the almost over 
whelming gravity and complexity of the problems and affairs 
which must be administered by the Pope and his counselors, it 
is more and more evident that the organization through which 
they work is at least the equal of, if not superior to, any existing 
governmental or business organization. It has been built up slowly 
through twenty centuries upon elements existing prior to the birth 
of the Church itself. Some of these elements were taken over 
from the Jewish ecclesiastical system; others from the Roman 
(and pagan) religions and civil methods; all were adapted to the 
new and absolutely unique purposes of the Christian Church. 
Thus, changing as to details, or to meet new developments of 
human society as they arose, the most ancient customs and 
traditions of humanity are commingled with the most modern 
devices in the present mechanism of the Church in action. But 
when the Pope uses the radio to communicate a message with his 
own voice which is heard by millions simultaneously in many 
parts of the earth, the doctrine upon which that message is 

The Roman Congregations 89 

grounded will be identical in essence with the doctrine which 
guided some Pope in the days of Nero when he sent a message, 
laboriously written on parchment, by a messenger who was 
obliged to walk hundreds of miles to some group of the faithful 
in Asia Minor. 

Let us now turn to the next most important element in the 
governance of the Church in action: the Roman Congregations. 
These are twelve in number, as follows: Congregation of the 
Holy Office; Consistorial Congregation; Congregation for the 
Oriental Church; Congregation of the Sacraments; Congregation 
of the Council; Congregation of Religious; Congregation for the 
Propagation of the Faith (or Propaganda); Congregation of Rites; 
Congregation of Ceremonies; Congregation for Extraordinary 
Ecclesiastical Affairs; Congregation of Seminaries and Universi 
ties; Congregation of the Basilica or Fabric of St. Peter's. 

Generally speaking, the matters brought to these congrega 
tions are petitions dispatched to Rome from dioceses or religious 
orders or missionary organizations or individual Catholics from 
all parts of the world, requesting authoritative decisions of dis 
putes or problems which have not been satisfactorily disposed of 
by the diocesan or local courts or authorities. When such a 
petition, usually accompanied by other documents offered in 
evidence, is received by one of the congregations, it is first exam 
ined by the secretary, or assessor, to see if it is properly the 
business of his department. If not, it is transmitted to one of the 
other congregations. If it is of a contentious nature, the congrega 
tion does not deal with it: such questions are referred to the 
tribunals, for only the Congregation of the Holy Office possesses 
judicial as well as administrative powers. 

This decision is not always simple; it is often difficult to draw 
a line between the domain of administration and that of justice. 
Much depends on the state of mind of the parties in dispute. 
For example, if a pastor considers himself wronged in some 
matter by the members of a religious order who serve a hospital 
situated in his parish, and the case cannot or, in fact, has not been 
settled by the higher authorities of the diocese, the pastor will 
petition the intervention of the Congregation of the Council. 
If the pastor and the religious align themselves as adversaries, 
the affair is of a judicial nature. In this case they must have re- 


course to another system, not a part of the work of a congrega 
tion: testimony of witnesses and lawyers' pleas. In other words, 
the canon law must be applied. On the other hand, if the parties, 
without relinquishing any of those rights which they consider 
belonging to them, should simply ask that the controversy be 
examined by the congregation and settled, the congregation will 
deal with the affair. The judiciary and administrative are less 
opposed on the basis of the question than by the manner in 
which the interested parties make their appeal. Although a con 
gregation does not admit a petition when it foresees a danger of 
judicial process, it may always refer a matter to a tribunal when 
in the course of the study of the question difficulties arise which 
could not at first be foreseen. When, in any particular case, it is 
decided that the matter does not come within the jurisdiction of 
the tribunals, it remains to be seen whether or not it should be 
referred to another congregation. 

The Roman Congregations do not publish all their decisions. 
An enormous number of these have no interest whatever except 
to those who solicit them. But if they contribute to the interpreta 
tion of some point of canon law or are of interest in jurispru 
dence, they are published in the A eta Apostolic ae Sedis, created 
by the Apostolic Constitution Promiilgardi of Pius X in 1908. 
This is really the official organ of the Holy See (not to be con 
fused with the Acta Sanctae Sedis, a private enterprise that 
existed prior to 1865). Those receiving this bulletin possess the 
exact and official text of a pontifical document. When a decision 
should be published the prelate who is secretary or assessor of 
the congregation communicates the text, signed by him, to the 
editorial staff of the Acta., and the latter is responsible for its 
correct printing by the Vatican Press. 

Until 1908 it was impossible to have direct access to the 
congregations. It was necessary to utilize the good offices of an 
accredited agent or "expediter," before the Dataria, or the Apos 
tolic Chancery. Papal regulations aimed at the activities of these 
agents show that they have not always been free from the re 
proach of exploiting their clientele. However, the system had its 
good points, because it spared the congregations much trouble, 
especially correspondence inevitable for persons who were not 
acquainted with the practices of the Curia and the information 
which must be furnished them. But it offered many inconven- 

The Roman Congregations 9 1 

iences, especially that of imposing additional expense on the 

It is always difficult to attack the privileges of a corpora 
tion; much more so to suppress its monopoly. Pius X had the 
courage to operate this reform. A few lines of the constitution 
Sapienti consilio suffice: "The door of the congregations are 
open to all the world, the exclusive privilege of the apostolic 
expediters is abolished." 

At present, therefore, all Catholics have the right to present 
a request directly to the congregations. In practice, however, 
almost every bishop has a regular agent, employed for all matters 
except those which the bishops wish to treat directly. Private 
persons, priests or laity, unless they are able to take advantage of 
the good offices of a friend residing in Rome, ordinarily address 
their petition to their own diocesan administration to have it 
forwarded to its correct destination. In any case, before dealing 
with any petition, the congregations address themselves as a 
matter of principle to the bishops from whose diocese the request 
emanates. It is therefore better that the latter should give his 
opinion at once in transmitting the request. 

With these general facts concerning the work of the Roman 
congregations in mind, let us now briefly consider the congrega 
tions separately. 

Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office 

This congregation, one of the three of which the Pope him 
self is the prefect, holds the highest rank in the Curia because it 
possesses the supreme jurisdiction over matters of "doctrine, of 
faith and of morals." The adjective "Supreme" officially appears 
since 1927 in the name of this Congregation. Historically, it 
stems from the "Supreme and Universal Inquisition" set up by 
Pope Paul III in 1542, which in turn was a development of ec 
clesiastical legislation growing up from the earliest ages of the 
Church. The positive suppression of heresy the denial of truth 
by ecclesiastical and civil authority in Christian society is as 
old as the Church itself. The right and the duty to do so springs, 
according to Catholic teaching, from two facts. First, that true 
religious belief is something objective, the gift of God, and 
therefore outside the realm of free, private judgment; second, 
that the Catholic Church, the divinely appointed custodian of 


true religious belief, is "a society perfect and sovereign, based 
substantially on a pure and authentic Revelation, whose first and 
most important duty must naturally be to retain unsullied this 
original deposit of faith." * No claim of the Catholic Church is 
more strongly disputed by those who deny or oppose her au 
thority, and by them the instrument of the exercise of that claim, 
the Inquisition, is the most strongly condemned of all the modes 
of the Church's action. Into the controversy over this matter 
this book cannot enter, our purpose being here, as elsewhere, to 
confine ourselves to describing not explaining nor defending 
as plainly and as briefly as possible, the animating principle of the 
various main departments and agencies of the Catholic Church in 

The old papal Inquisition was a loose organization extending 
throughout the Christian world with innumerable personnel, its 
tribunals generally entrusted to Dominican and Franciscan friars. 
The "Supreme and Universal Inquisition," founded by Paul III, 
consisted of a central bureau in Rome, formed of a restricted 
number of cardinals charged with the task of guarding Christian 
doctrine throughout the world, and was in general respects, de 
spite many modifications of procedure since the sixteenth cen 
tury, the direct origin of the Holy Office of today. 

In one respect, the Holy Office differs from all the other con 
gregations in that it exercises both judicial and administrative 
powers, while the others have only administrative power, or, at 
least, may only use judicial power at the request of the parties 
interested. Thus, the Holy Office in dealing with all matters which 
directly or indirectly concern faith or morals, will not only 
judge heresy and the offenses that lead to suspicion of heresy, but, 
where it pronounces an adverse judgment, will also apply the 
canonical punishments incurred by heretics and schismatics. 

If anyone, speaking for the Catholic Church, departs from its 
orthodox teachings he is likely sooner or later to be denounced 
to the Holy Office. 2 A recent case occurred in 1949, when a ques 
tion was put before the congregation in regard to the interpreta 
tion of the axiom: "Outside the Church there is no salvation." 

1 See Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Inquisition," vol. vm, pp. 26-38. 

2 If he fails to recant, he is subject to excommunication, which means he 
cannot receive the sacraments or participate in any activity of the Church, 
and he is ostracized by believers. If he is a priest he is unfrocked and deprived 
of his post and emoluments. 

The Roman Congregations 03 

At that time the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office 
made the following decision, which was sent in form of a letter 
to Archbishop Gushing of Boston, Massachusetts: 

This Supreme Sacred Congregation has followed very attentively 
the rise and the course of the grave controversy stirred up by certain 
associates of "St. Benedict Center" and "Boston College" in regard to 
the interpretation of that axiom: "Outside the Church there is no salva 

After having examined all the documents that are necessary or use 
ful in this matter, among them information from your Chancery, as 
well as appeals and reports in which the associates of "St. Benedict 
Center" explain their opinions and complaints, and also many other 
documents pertinent to the controversy, officially collected, the same 
Sacred Congregation is convinced that the unfortunate controversy 
arose from the fact that the axiom "Outside the Church there is no 
salvation," was not correctly understood and weighed, and that the 
same controversy was rendered more bitter by serious disturbance of 
discipline arising from the fact that some of the associates of the in 
stitutions mentioned above refused reference and obedience to legiti 
mate authorities. 

Accordingly, the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Cardinals of 
this Supreme Congregation, in a plenary session, held on Wednesday, 
July 27, 1949, decreed, and the August Pontiff in an audience on the 
following Thursday, July 28, 1949, deigned to give his approval, that 
the following explanations pertinent to the doctrine, and also that in 
vitations and exhortations relevant to discipline be given: 

We are bound by divine and Catholic faith to believe all those things 
which are contained in the Word of God, whether it be Scripture or 
tradition, and are proposed by the Church to be believed as divinely 
revealed, not only through solemn judgment but also through the ordi 
nary and universal teaching office (Denzinger, n. 1792). 

Now, among those things which the Church has always preached 
and never ceases to preach is contained also that infallible statement by 
which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church. 

However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the 
Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments 
that Our Saviour gave for explanation those things that are contained 
in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church. 

Now, in the first place, the Church teaches that in this matter 
there is question of a most strict command of Jesus Christ. For He 
explicitly enjoined on His Apostles to teach all nations to observe all 
things whatsoever He Himself had commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). 

Now, among the commandments of Christ, that one holds not the 
least place by which we are commanded to be incorporated by Baptism 
into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, and to remain 
united to Christ and to His Vicar, through whom He Himself in a 
visible manner governs the Church on earth. 


Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have 
been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to 
the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar 
of Christ on earth. 

Not only did the Saviour command that all nations should enter 
the Church, but he also decreed the Church to be a means of salvation, 
without which no one can enter the kingdom of eternal glory. 

In His infinite mercy God has willed that the effects, necessary for 
one to be saved, of those helps to salvation which are directed toward 
man's nal end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institu 
tion, can also be obtained in certain circumstances when those helps 
are used only in desire and longing. This we see clearly stated in the 
Sacred Council of Trent, both in reference to the Sacrament of Re 
generation and in reference to the Sacrament of Penance (Denzinger, 
nn. 797, 807). ^ 

The same in its own degree must be asserted of the Church, in as 
far as she is the general help to salvation. Therefore, that one may 
obtain eternal salvation, is not always required that he be incorporated 
into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least 
he be united to her by desire and longing. 

However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechu 
mens; hut when a person is involved in invincible ignorance, God ac 
cepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that 
good disposition of soul whereby a person wished his will to be con 
formed to the will of God. 

These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was 
issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, "On 
the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ" (A.A.S., Vol. 35, an. 1943, p. 193 ff.). 
For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between 
those who are actually incorporated into the Church as members, and 
those who are united to the Church only by desire. 

Discussing the members of which the Mystical Body is composed 
here on earth, the same August Pontiff says: "Actually only those are 
to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and 
profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to 
separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by 
legitimate authority for grave faults committed." 

Toward the end of this same Encyclical letter, when most affec 
tionately inviting to unity those who do not belong to the body of the 
Catholic Church, he mentions those who "are related to the Mystical 
Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire," 
and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but on the 
other hand states that they are in a condition "in which they cannot 
be sure of their salvation" since "they still remain deprived of those 
many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catho 
lic Church" ( A.A.S., loc. cit., 243 ). 

With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from 
eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and 

The Roman Congregations 95 

those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every 
religion (cf. Pope Pius IX, Allocution Singulari quadam in Den- 
zinger,nn. 1641,5.: also Pope Pius IX in the Encyclical letter Quanta 
conficiamur moerore in Denzinger, n. 1677). 

But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the 
Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire 
by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. 
Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has 
supernatural faith: "For he who comes to God must believe that God 
exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews n:6). 
The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap. 8): "Faith is the be 
ginning of man's salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, 
without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellow 
ship of His children" (Denzinger, n. 801). 

From what has been said it is evident that those things which are 
proposed in the periodical "From the Housetops," fascicle 3, as the 
genuine teaching of the Catholic Church are far from being such and 
are very harmful both to those within the Church and those without. 

From these declarations which pertain to doctrine certain conclu 
sions follow which regard discipline and conduct, and which cannot 
be unknown to those who vigorously defend the necessity by which all 
are bound of belonging to the true Church and of submitting to the 
authority of the Roman Pontiff and of the Bishops "whom the Holy 
Ghost has placed ... to rule the Church" (Acts 20:28). 

Hence, one cannot understand how the St. Benedict Center can 
consistently claim to be a Catholic school and wish to be accounted 
such, and yet not conform to the prescriptions of Canons 1381 and 
1382 of the Code of Canon Law, and continue to exist as a source of 
discord and rebellion against ecclesiastical authority and as a source 
of the disturbance of many consciences. Furthermore, it is beyond 
understanding how a member of a religious institute, namely Father 
Feeney, presents himself as a "Defender of the Faith," and at the same 
time does not hesitate to attack the catechetical instruction proposed 
by lawful authorities, and has not even feared to incur grave sanctions 
threatened by the sacred canons because of his serious violations of his 
duties as a religious, a priest, and an ordinary member of the Church. 

Finally, it is in no wise to be tolerated that certain Catholics shall 
claim for themselves the right to publish a periodical, for the purpose 
of spreading theological doctrines without the permission of competent 
Church authority, called the "imprimatur," which is prescribed by 
the sacred canons. 

Therefore, let them who in grave peril are ranged against the 
Church seriously bear in mind that after "Rome has spoken" they 
cannot be excused even by reasons of good faith. Certainly, their bond 
and duty of obedience toward the Church is much graver than that of 
those who as yet are related to the Church "only by an unconscious 
desire." Let them realize that they are children of the Church, lovingly 
nourished by her with the milk of doctrine and the sacraments, and 


hence, having heard the clear voice of their Mother, they cannot be 
excused from culpable ignorance, and therefore to them apply without 
any restriction that principle: submission to the Catholic Church and 
to the Sovereign Pontiff is required as necessary for salvation. 

In sending this letter, I declare my profound esteem and remain 

Your Excellency's most devoted 

The Holy Office not only condemns and punishes heresy, but 
also offenses which are attached to heresy. At the beginning of 
this century censure fell on the leaders of the "Modernist" move 
ment; Catholics joining the Freemasons are excommunicated, also 
those who become members of Marxist and Communist organiza 

Since 1918 the Holy Office has been responsible for the judging 
of books, not only of theology, but of all kinds, in their relation 
to faith and morals. Before that time this was the work of a 
special congregation, that of the Congregation of the Index. From 
the very beginning of its existence, the Church condemned the 
writings of schismatics, and all books which were judged to be 
dangerous to the morals as well as the faith of Catholics. A cata 
logue ordered by the Council of Trent in 1562 gave not only a 
list of books prohibited at that time, but a set of rules regarding 
the publishing and reading of books. Leo XIII in 1897 reformed 
the code of penalties of the Index and the procedure for con 
demning books. With the great distribution of printed matter 
nowadays, greater jurisdiction in this regard is now placed in the 
hands of the bishops of the world. 

According to the present Code of Canon Law, local Ordinar 
ies (bishops) must either in person or through priests especially 
designated for the purpose, watch over books published or sold 
in their territory; and it is their right and duty to prohibit books 
or other publications for a good reason. However, they should 
refer to the Congregation of the Holy Office those books which 
require a more searching examination, or works which for their 
effective prohibition demand the weight of the supreme au 
thority. Furthermore, it is the duty of the faithful, and especially 
of the clergy and men of learning, to refer books which they 
believe pernicious to the Ordinary of the diocese or to the Holy 

Thus in every episcopal curia are official censors who examine 
works written by Catholics and referring to ecclesiastical subjects, 

The Roman Congregations 97 

religion or morals (which, in fact, are usually submitted to them 
in advance by the publishers). Such examiners, who bear the 
title of censor librorum, are taken from either the secular or 
religious clergy, and should be men of tried learning and pru 
dence. Their opinions on books are given in writing; if it is 
favorable, the Ordinary affixes his imprimatur (Latin, let it be 
printed) which we see on the reverse side of the title page of 
such books, accompanied by the nihil obstat of the censor. 

The existence of these general rules explains the absence from 
the Index of many well-known works of immoral literature. Such 
works simply have escaped from being brought before the su 
preme authority. Many Catholics imagine that they may read 
books not listed within the Index librorum prohibitorum because 
"they are not on the Index," and complaints are often heard that 
certain works not listed are far more dangerous or scandalous 
than others specifically mentioned. These objections are an 
swered by the Reverend Father Esser, a secretary of the former 
Congregation of the Index: "A special reason is necessary be 
fore the Roman congregations give a black mark to a book 
which the general decrees have already placed in the category of 
forbidden books. This reason is most often furnished by the 
denunciation of a bishop or other authorized person who calls to 
the attention of the Holy See the harmful or dangerous character 
of such a writing. On such occasions, and not with the intention 
of choosing the worst representatives of a bad type of literature, 
the Holy See is frequently called upon to examine other books 
which do not enter within the general decrees." 

The Index is far more apt to contain mention of works on 
theology or religion than those on obscene subjects which fall 
naturally under the general proscription and whose perversity 
any moral man or woman can judge for himself. Thus we often 
find mentioned in the Index editions of the Bible from non- 
approved sources, works on biblical, theological or religious mat 
ters, even when they are not incorrect, or the accounts of visions, 
apparitions, miracles or revelations, even if they are intended to 
edify, when they do not bear the stamp of ecclesiastical censor 
ship. Other books are condemned because they champion positive 
heresy or schism, or theories dangerous to faith and morals, as 
for example, euthanasia, spiritualism, or because they ridicule 
Catholic beliefs. 


The decisions of the Holy Office in this matter are binding on 
Catholics and they are forbidden to possess, read, keep, sell or 
lend to others a condemned book. The Holy Office may authorize 
exceptions in the case of examiners, nuncios, delegates, savants, 
professors, or writers, who are obliged to read the theories ad 
vanced in these books in order to combat them. 3 

Although the Congregation of Sacraments has jurisdiction in 
general matters pertaining to marriage, to the Holy Office is re 
ferred the question of mixed marriages and of the "Pauline privi 
lege." The latter is called the "Apostolic case" and refers to these 
words of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, 7:12-15: 

If any brother has a wife that belie veth not, and she consent to 
dwell with him, let him not put her away. 

And if any woman hath a husband that believeth not, and he consent 
to dwell with her, let her not put away her husband. For the unbe 
lieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbe 
lieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband; otherwise your chil 
dren should be unclean; but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever 
depart, let him depart. For a brother or sister is not under servitude 
in such cases. But God hath called us in peace. 

It follows that if one of a married couple (pagan or Jew this 
rule does not deal with Catholics and non-Catholics) becomes 
converted to Christianity and the other unjustly refuses to live 
with him or her, or tries to prevent the practice of his or her re 
ligion, or to force him or her to renounce it, such a marriage may, 
if all the necessary facts are established, be dissolved, and the con 
vert be allowed to remarry. 

Mixed marriage is another matter, and here the activity of 
the Holy Office becomes more administrative than judicial. It is 
not so much a question of settling a delicate question of juris 
prudence, as in cases arising under the Pauline Law, as it is of 
prescribing rules in the matter of mixed marriages to be followed 
by bishops in regions where these marriages are frequent, and 
where the bishops have indults permitting them to grant dispensa 
tions themselves. The Catholic doctrine in this matter is well- 
known: marriages without special dispensation between Catholics 
and unbaptized persons are null and void, marriages between 
Catholics and non-Catholic Christians are valid but forbidden. 

3 The last edition of the Index appeared in 1946 from the presses of the 
Tipografia Poliglotta Vatican^ and is entitled the Index Librorum prohibi- 
torum (Catalogue of Forbidden Books) . The previous edition was published 
in 1929. 

The Roman Congregations 99 

The dispensation is granted in cases where the religion of the 
Catholic party is not apparently subject to danger and where the 
non-Catholic contractant agrees to allow the other to practice his 
or her religion, to be married by a Catholic priest, and to bring 
up the children in the Catholic faith. These promises must be 
formally made in writing. Despite these guarantees, the Church is 
frankly opposed to mixed marriages, earnestly advises against 
them and the Holy Office accords these dispensations reluctantly. 
So much so, that liturgical rites are refused in these marriages and 
there can be no nuptial Mass. 

Another class of questions submitted to the Holy Office is con 
cerned with mystical experiences of every sort, which are care 
fully screened and sifted. All such phenomena are regarded with 
extreme caution, and the Church does not express an opinion on 
the authenticity of supernatural events or visions while the re 
cipients are living. For example, the Holy Office is fully aware of 
such individuals as Theresa Neumann of Konnersreuth, Germany, 
and the Italian priest Father Pio, but gives no encouragement to 
the interest and curiosity they have aroused in many quarters. 
Such cases might eventually reach the Holy Office in the form 
of a question, the answer to which would be the judgment of the 
Church, either forbidding the faithful to place credence in the 
supernatural character of the phenomena, or allowing it. It would 
all depend upon the evidence submitted. Such phenomena may 
occur in which case they may, according to Catholic belief, be 
either divine or diabolical in their origin; or they may be hys 
terical illusions; or they may be quite fraudulent. 

Similarly, questions of spiritualism are considered. Holding as 
it does that the soul of man survives after death, the Church does 
not judge all spiritualistic phenomena as necessarily fraudulent or 
as mere illusions, but it does hold that spiritualism is fraught 
with dangers and disappointments; for these reasons she has for 
bidden such practices as spiritualistic seances to her children. But 
while the practical conduct of Catholics in this matter is wisely 
guided by the Church, she recognizes that the vital questions 
raised by spiritualism call none the less for careful, prudent and 
scientific investigation. 

The Eucharistic fast of priests falls also under the authority of 
the Holy Office. In this matter 4 the Holy Office grants bishops 

4 See Ch. XDC, "The Liturgy," p. 307, for recent changes in the fasting laws. 


and other prelates with territorial jurisdiction the right to give 
dispensations especially in the case of missionaries and priests who 
must serve a number of parishes. 

Finally the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has com 
petence over certain offenses not mentioned earlier here but cov 
ered in the Code of Canon Law: calumnious denunciation of a 
priest (can. 2363); simony (can. 2371); being ordained by an 
apostate, heretic or schismatic bishop (can. 2372); attempted mat 
rimony by a priest or religious before civil authority (can. 
2388 i); accusations against priests for crimes committed against 
morality, etc. 

The Holy Office is one of the congregations presided over by 
the Pope; its decrees are always submitted for his approval. Among 
its high officials are several Dominicans, a vestige of the time 
when the sons of St. Dominic were the most active workers of 
the Inquisition, As it is a tribunal, it counts among its personnel 
a promoter of justice who takes the role of prosecutor, and an 
official advocate who defends the accused. 

The secrecy surrounding the statutes and proceedings of the 
Holy Office inspire a good deal of mystery; its deliberations are 
sealed with the secrecy of the confessional, and its archives are 
jealously closed. Many historians criticize the Holy Office for 
this secrecy, and attacks have been made on the Church for con 
cealing documents which, it is claimed, would but prove the 
culpability of the Holy See in certain matters. The truth is more 
banal: the secrecy surrounding the Holy Office has as its object 
to protect individual reputations many matters judged by this 
congregation are other than errors of opinion. 

Sacred Consistorial Congregation 

The duties of this congregation are: i) to prepare the work of 
the consistories of cardinals; 5 2) to designate in countries not un 
der the authority of the Congregation of the Propagation of the 
Faith or the Congregation for the Oriental Church new dioceses 
and chapters both cathedratic and collegiate, to divide when nec 
essary dioceses already existing, to nominate bishops, their coad 
jutors and auxiliaries, and apostolic administrators, apostolic visi 
tors and particular appointees such as the military Ordinaries; 
3) to watch over the government and administration of all dioceses 

5 These are described in Ch. vr. 

The Roman Congregations i o i 

not under the authority of the Propaganda or of the Congregation 
for the Oriental Church; 4) to take charge of emigrants of the 
Latin rite. 

Its first duty, that of preparing the agenda of consistories, is 
by no means so arduous as in former years when much of the 
actual business of the government of the Church was transacted in 
these assemblies, but the congregation is more than occupied with 
diocesan affairs throughout the entire world. The questions of the 
dismemberment of old dioceses and the formation of new ones 
is a most delicate matter, calling for detailed study of conditions 
and the consideration of such matters as the size of the territory, 
its population, financial resources, number of vocations to the 
priesthood. Similar questions arise when new dioceses are created 
in mission countries when a regular hierarchy is substituted for 
the mission personnel. These matters arise when territory sub 
mitted to the Congregation of the Propaganda passes under the 
jurisdiction of that of the Consistory. In these cases the frequent 
sacrifices of legitimate interests calls for the most just and diplo 
matic procedures. 

The nomination of bishops is a routine duty of the Consistory, 
except in cases where the appointments are made under the 
terms of a concordat; then it passes to the province of the 
Congregation for Extraordinary Affairs, owing to the necessity of 
negotiation with civil authorities. We will see in another chapter 6 
the procedure followed for the naming of bishops in various 
countries; the work of the Consistory in these selections is ardu 
ous. In many ways it keeps itself constantly informed of the 
qualifications of priests available for promotion (not waiting until 
a vacancy actually occurs). Chief among these methods are the 
"lists" drawn up every two years by already existing bishops 
(method in use in the United States), but the Consistory is not 
satisfied with these recommendations and makes careful inquiries, 
often through the nuncio or apostolic delegate, regarding the 
qualifications of the candidates. 

The role of the Consistory in recruiting the bishops of the 
Church (it might be called the "personnel bureau" of the Holy 
See) makes of it one of the most influential bureaus of the 
Curia. Its part in the administration of the dioceses under these 
bishops is equally important, as it is charged by the present Code 

6 See Ch. xn, "The Hierarchy," pp. 181-2. 


of Canon Law with "their constitution, their preservation and 
their condition." The Congregation sees to the faithful perform 
ance of duties by the Ordinary, examines written reports on 
the condition of the dioceses (even of those bishops appointed by 
a concordat), prescribes apostolic visits, orders measures judged 
necessary and opportune and shares with the Congregation of 
Seminaries and Universities an interest in the general management 
of both the business and the intellectual side of clerical education. 

The obligation of all bishops to pay regular visits to the tombs 
of the Apostles Peter and Paul is one of the most ancient tradi 
tions of the Church. The Canon Code has dissociated these visits 
ad limna from the obligation of reporting once every five years 
to the Consistory, and although many bishops submit these re 
ports on the occasion of their personal visits to Rome, such is not 
always the case. European bishops, unless hindered by such 
emergencies as the measures taken by the Communist govern 
ments of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania 
etc., which have prevented them from leaving the country, must 
come to Rome every five years; those beyond the seas are not 
obliged to do this more than once a decade; but all bishops must 
make a quinquennial report to the Consistory. The order in 
which these reports are handed in is so rotated that every year 
the Consistory must examine the condition of one-fifth of the 
dioceses of the entire world. The bishops do not choose the form 
of this document. It is rigorously prescribed by the Consistory 
in the form of a questionnaire, and calls for detailed information 
regarding the bishop himself (his age, date of consecration, etc., 
and a brief history of his diocese); regarding finances of the 
diocese; faith and worship; actual work transacted by the bish 
ops; complete list of and comments on the diocesan curia; semi 
naries; clergy in general; the cathedral chapter; religious orders; 
the faithful, followed by a general summary of the entire report. 
This report is not simply filed away in Rome. It is carefully 
read and answered by suggestions and even orders from the Con 
sistory. Its effect is sometimes the unannounced arrival in a dio 
cese of an apostolic visitor, coming from Rome with full powers 
to make an inquiry and often even to act on his findings. 

The situation in most of the Iron Curtain countries has made 
it impossible for the bishops to submit these reports, unless private 
and secret means could be found for forwarding them to the 

The Roman Congregations 103 

Holy See. Since the occupation of these countries by the Soviet 
army and the subsequent constitution of Communist governments 
(with the help of the same armed might) there is no regular 
and open communication between the bishops of the countries 
under Communist rule and the Vatican. In most cases, bishops 
appointed by the Holy See have been unable to take over their 
sees. The Communist governments, acting through their bureaus 
of ecclesiastical affairs, control the chanceries, transfer priests 
from one diocese to the other, and even try to appoint "bishops" 
to vacant sees. All these appointments, removals, etc. are of course 
canonically invalid, because they occur without the consent or 
even against the will of the Pope. Thus, it would only be an 
apostate priest who would accept "episcopal appointment" from 
anyone but the Pontiff. 7 

The Consistorial Congregation also provides for the spiritual 
care of emigrants of the Latin rite, the discipline of European 
priests who go abroad, the direction of the Pontifical College of 
Emigrants, and the Apostolate of the Sea (can. 248). 

The Consistorial Congregation is presided over by the Holy 
Father, and has its own cardinal secretary assisted by an assessor 
and a substitute. Its members include three of the most important 
members of the Roman Curia: the Secretary of the Holy Office, 
the Secretary of State, and the Prefect of the Congregation 
of Seminaries and Universities. Most of the decisions of the Con 
sistory are reached at a full meeting of the cardinal members, and 
are notified by decrees; the nomination of a bishop, however, is 
the object of an apostolic bull. 

Sacred Congregation -for the Oriental Church 
As we have reserved for a later chapter 8 the complex but 
interesting matter of the Eastern churches and their relation with 
Rome, we shall here content ourselves with a brief word con 
cerning the work of the congregation of the Curia established in 
1917 and which exercises over all bishops, clergy, religious and 
faithful of the Oriental rites the same jurisdiction as that of the 
Consistorial Congregation and the Congregations of the Council, 
Religious, and Seminaries in their respective fields of competence 
in the Latin Church. Further Pius XI in his motu proprio Sancta 

7 See Ch. xx, "The Church in Communist-Dominated Countries," pp. 

8 See Ch. xv, "The Eastern Churches." 


Dei Ecclesia of March 25, 1938, decreed that in order to unify 
the administration of the apostolate in all countries of the Orient, 
the Congregation for the Oriental Church was given exclusive 
territorial jurisdiction over all the hierarchy, faithful, institutions, 
pious societies, etc. both of the Latin and the Oriental rites in 
the following regions: Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, Eritrea and 
Northern Ethiopia, Southern Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, 
the Dodecanese Islands, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, 
Jordan, Asiatic Turkey and Turkish Thrace. Already in 1935 
there had been entrusted to this Congregation the care of Russian 
refugees in all parts of the world, and since August 1950, its 
jurisdiction has been extended to Afghanistan. It is a policy of 
"hands off" for the other Congregations and only the Holy Office 
keeps its universal rights vis-a-vis the Oriental Church. Bishops, 
clergy, monks, and laymen of the Churches of the Oriental rites 
have recourse to it alone; canonists consider that it has not only 
administrative but judicial and in some cases legislative power. 
The congregation is presided over by the Sovereign Pontiff 
himself and immediately directed by a cardinal secretary who 
has regular audience with the Holy Father three times a month 
and who is also chairman of the Commission for the Codification 
of Oriental Canon Law. 9 

Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments 
The "Congregation of the Discipline of the Sacraments" has 
existed only since 1908, resulting from the constitution Sapienti 
consilio of Pius X, and its full title goes far in describing its func 
tions. It has to do with the external discipline of the sacraments, 
not with doctrines concerning them, which fall to the Holy 
Office, nor with attendant ceremonies which come within the 
province of the Congregation of Rites. Of three sections of this 
congregation, two deal with matrimonial problems and one with 
everything pertaining to sacramental discipline outside of mar 

All matters concerning impediments to marriage come to the 

second bureau consanguinity, affinity, spiritual relationships, 

previous promises to marry, etc. The third section deals with 

questions involving the validity of marriage, the annulment of 

9 See Ch. x, "The Papal Commissions," pp. 150-2. 

The Roman Congregations 105 

non-consummated unions, and scmatio in radice, or the secret 
revalidation of invalid marriages without securing a renewal of 
consent. As this last matter is not generally well understood even 
by Catholics, it is perhaps well to add that this sanatio can be 
granted only by the Holy See; and there is no validation of this 
kind for a marriage which has an impediment of the natural or 
Divine Law, but only for a marriage which was null because of 
some ecclesiastical obstacle. In other words, the Church can undo 
what it has done; and this action may retroact so that, by a 
sort of legal fiction, the marriage will then be considered to have 
been legal from the beginning; it is especially useful in the 
legitimization of children already born of such a union. 

The first bureau of the Congregation of Sacraments accords 
certain dispensations to candidates for the priesthood (when this 
does not conflict with the rights of the Congregation of Religious 
in matter of persons in religious orders), regulates ordinations, 
grants dispensations regarding the time and place for celebration of 
Mass, the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, permission for 
simple priests to give Confirmation in extraordinary cases, etc. 
Cases which the Congregation thinks would be best treated by 
judicial procedure are handed over to the tribunals of the 
Curia of which we shall read in the next chapter. 

The Congregation of Sacraments is presided over by a cardinal 
prefect, aided by a secretary and other officials; it counts twenty- 
one cardinals among its members, of whom ten belong to the Ro 
man Curia. Notification of its decisions are made in divers ways: 
dispensations for marriage, under the form of a brief, are commu 
nicated by the congregation itself; permissions to have a private 
chapel are sent out by the Chancery of Apostolic Briefs which 
receives the necessary indications from the Secretary of the Con 
gregation of the Sacraments. 

Sacred Congregation of the Council 

Founded by Pius IV in 1564, by the bull Alias nos, this is 
the oldest of the Roman congregations after the Holy Office. 
Briefly, it is that congregation originally charged with carrying 
out and interpreting the reformatory provisions of the Council 
of Trent which has become a sort of arbiter in all questions of 
ecclesiastical discipline, with jurisdiction over the secular clergy 


and the faithful of the Latin rite and outside of the territories 
of the Propaganda. To it are submitted questions raised in the mat 
ter of the observance of the commandments of the Church 
fasting, tithes, pious associations and unions, pious bequests, 
charitable societies, the offering for the Mass, benefices, ecclesi 
astical property, diocesan taxes, clerical immunity finally, re 
garding the holding of Church councils, and revising the work 
of such councils, episcopal synods and conferences. It directs cate 
chetical instruction and in general sees to the observance of the 
precepts of the Christian life. 

Two special offices are attached to this Congregation, one 
catechetical., the other administrative. The Congregation of the 
Council has a cardinal prefect, a secretary and a sub-secretary. 

Sacred Congregation of Religious 

Before the reform of the Curia by Pius X in 1908, members of 
religious orders came under the jurisdiction of the then existing 
Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. This Congregation was 
charged with all problems arising between the diocesan (or secular) 
and religious clergy, also between bishops and their subjects, lay 
or clerical, between bishops and religious, between different reli 
gious houses, and in the affairs of religious persons. After refer 
ring disputes to the tribunals of the Curia, and giving to the 
Consistorial, the Council and the Congregation of Sacraments 
those functions we have just seen, Pope Pius restored the old 
"Congregation of Religious" of Sixtus V, subtracting from it all 
that pertained to the affairs of the bishops. Its present jurisdiction 
and powers are as follows: all that has to do with the vows, the 
property, the studies, the privileges of religious; difficulties be 
tween superiors and subordinates; dispensations to religious in 
all matters save that of the Eucharistic fast, which falls under 
the Holy Office. It also supervises the material, moral and social 
situation of religious returned to the world, in many cases event 
ually also of their later return to religious life. In short, the 
Sacred Congregation of Religious is the organ of the Holy See 
for the direction of religious all over the world. 

Its clientele consists of all those generally called "religious," a 
term including members of regular religious orders who have 
taken the three solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, 
members of religious congregations who live in community but 

The Roman Congregations 

who have taken only simple vows, 10 members of the secular 
Third Orders. Pius XII in his constitution, Provida Mater Ecclesia 
of February 2, 1947 and his Prime felititer of March 12, 1948, 
decreed that members of "secular institutes" of the faithful whose 
aim it is to work for Christian perfection, without taking vows 
and without the obligation of leading a life in continued com 
munity, are subject to the Sacred Congregation of Religious. We 
shall explain all these matters in a separate chapter, endeavoring 
to confine ourselves here to such as relates directly to the work 
of that bureau of the Curia called the Congregation of Religious. 11 

A religious order owes its origin to its founder, but its legal 
and canonical life to the approval given it by ecclesiastical au 
thority. Nowadays every new congregation receives its existence 
from the bishop of the territory where it is founded. But the 
bishop, before giving this necessary approbation, must first con 
sult the Congregation of Religious. The new "religion" (a term 
which may be applied in general to orders and congregations) 
is at the first stage of its career placed under the supervision of 
the sponsoring bishop even when it opens new houses in other 
dioceses (it is said to be of diocesan right, and the bishop has all 
power over it except that of suppression; for this he must have 
recourse to Rome). When the congregation is well established 
and has borne results in the field of work for which it was es 
tablished, the superior general may ask from the Holy See the 
decretum laudis under which it passes to the direct jurisdiction 
of the Pope. The supplication is addressed to the Holy Father, 
but sent to the Congregation of Religious with a report on the 
history of the congregation, the state of its personnel, its finan 
cial situation, condition of its novitiate, and printed copies of its 
constitution, accompanied by testimonial letters in sealed enve 
lopes from the bishops of all dioceses where the order is working. 

If these are approved by the Congregation of Religious, the 
"decree of praise" is granted, and the new congregation passes 
from the supervision of the bishop of the diocese to that of Rome. 
But this is not total approbation. The new "religion" must show 
that it can succeed under the new conditions. Frequently its con- 

10 For almost two centuries the Church has not authorized the foundation 
of new religious "orders" with solemn vows. All new groups of religious 
recently formed have been "congregations" with simple vows. 

11 See Ch. xvr, "The Religious Orders." 


stitution is changed when the decretum laudis is given this 
means that the new regulations must be given a trial, and the 
Holy See awaits full proof of the vitality and zeal of the new 
religious family. When the superior general considers this fully 
proved, he presents a new request for approbation ad experi- 
mentum of the constitutions and for the approval of the "religion" 
itself. It seldom happens that this is given fully at one time; the 
matter is kept before the Congregation of Religious until it is 
perfect to its last detail. Thus we see that this bureau pronounces 
on the very existence of new religious groups, oversees their 
foundation and sanctions their progress. 

Just as bishops are required every five years to submit a de 
tailed report on their diocese to the Congregation of the Con 
sistory, the Code of Canon Law requires the superior general of 
every community to submit a similar report to the Congregation 
of Religious. It must be prepared with the utmost care; in the case 
of orders and congregations of men, to be signed by the coun 
cil or the prior or superior; in the case of communities of women, 
countersigned also by the bishop of the diocese where the 
motherhouse is situated. The history of the foundation of the in 
stitution, its canonical condition and principal difficulties for 
the last twenty years must be reviewed. Then a detailed report on 
the personnel, professed and novices, on the houses of the order, 
their condition and finances a complete summary of the spiritual 
and material life of the "religion." 

At the head of this Congregation is a cardinal prefect, a 
secretary and sub-secretary who carry on its routine activities, 
and have recourse in grave questions to numerous consultors. As 
in most of the bureaus of the Curia, the Congregation of Religious 
does not handle affairs pertaining to the Oriental Church, which 
is the business of a separate bureau. Many Latin religious work 
ing with the missions are also responsible to the Propaganda for 
their missionary activity, but in all matters having to do with 
their character as a religious they remain under the care of the 
Congregation of Religious. 

Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith 

The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (de Propa 
ganda Fide) pushes the development of the Church in the lands 
of pagan, heretical and schismatic peoples, and administers Catho- 

The Roman Congregations 1 09 

lie missions throughout the world. For territories under its 
jurisdiction this congregation deals with all matters that for other 
territories would be submitted to the other congregations, save 
questions coming within the competency of the Supreme Sacred 
Congregation of the Holy Office and the Sacred Congregation of 
Rites and all cases involving the sacrament of Matrimony. 

Although the Church has from its beginning zealously fol 
lowed the command of its Founder, "to preach the Gospel to all 
nations," the Propaganda as a congregation is not one of the 
oldest. It was created as a permanent congregation by Gregory 
XV in i622, 12 after certain complications in the mission work of 
the Church, the history of which is not uninteresting: 

From their very beginnings, the orders of St. Francis and St. 
Dominic had as one of their principal objects the conversion of 
pagan peoples. Their superiors were responsible for the work of 
missions, and although they received sanction and encouragement 
from Rome, the mission work was not actively directed by the 
Curia. Later on, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the work 
of evangelization beyond the seas became a veritable monopoly 
of Spain and Portugal, both countries pushing their conquest to 
many shores where their first gesture was to plant the Cross. 
Unfortunately, the prerogatives given these nations by the papal 
bulls resulted not only in religious but political and commercial 
privileges, and as we may imagine, to many and bitter conflicts 
between the two. 

When in 1493, Christopher Columbus returned from his fa 
mous voyage to America, a dispute arose between Spain and 
Portugal regarding the newly-discovered territories. King Ma- 
noel of Portugal claimed them in virtue of pontifical privilege 
and the monopoly of the Militia of Christ (the successors of the 
Knights Templars) ; Ferdinand the Catholic made his claim by the 
right of discovery and other ecclesiastical privileges, and sent 
Cardinal Carvajal to Rome to sustain his cause. The result is well 
known. Alexander VI took a map of the world (which we may 
still see in the Museum of the Propaganda), and drawing a line 
from top to bottom, passing through the Azores at their farthest 

12 Earlier a commission of cardinals was set up by Gregory XIII (1572) 
to promote the reconciliation of Oriental schismatics. Expanded by later Popes 
this commission was given permanent status by Gregory XV with the task of 
spreading the Faith throughout the world. 


point west, gave to Portugal jurisdiction over lands discovered, 
or to be discovered, to the east of the line, and jurisdiction to 
Spain over the west. 

While the hegemony of Spain and Portugal in the newly dis 
covered territories lasted, this scheme did not work badly, but 
with the encroachments of England and Holland, the ancient 
privileges and the work of Christian evangelization came into 
conflict. The Portuguese and Spanish clergy were considered 
enemies by the new conquerors, and when French priests and 
religious tried to go to the relief of the abandoned neophytes, 
the Portuguese and Spanish inquisitors, in possession of great 
privileges and papal bulls, excommunicated and expelled the mis 
sionaries of other nations passing through their territory. It 
was as the result of the repeated efforts to adjust these diffi 
culties that the Holy See decided to break with the past and to 
revoke privileges manifestly inapplicable under the new circum 

The authority of the Propaganda is in a constant state of flux; 
the better it does its work, the sooner a given territory passes 
from its jurisdiction. By the present Code of Canon Law it is 
responsible not only for mission lands, but for "countries where 
the ecclesiastical hierarchy, although organized, is incomplete in 
certain details." Under these terms certain countries long remain 
under the Propaganda when their ecclesiastical organization ap 
pears on the surface to have been highly developed. In 1908, un 
der the constitution Sapienti consilio, the Propaganda underwent a 
considerable amputation by the passing to a regular status under 
the other congregations of England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, 
and Luxembourg in Europe; in North America, of the United 
States, Canada and Newfoundland. Furthermore, in 1917, upon 
the creation of the Congregation of Oriental Churches, missions 
not of the Latin rite were also subtracted from the province of 
the Propaganda; and since 1938 the latter congregation has also 
had jurisdiction over the Catholics of the Latin rite in regions 
under its jurisdiction. 

The domain of the Congregation of the Propaganda, however, 
is still tremendous. At the present time it has under its jurisdiction 
more than 30,000,000 Catholics in 78 archdioceses, nearly 300 
dioceses, and in more than 300 missionary districts where no 
hierarchy has yet been established. On the mission rosters ap- 

The Roman Congregations 1 1 1 

pear about 25,000 priests, nearly 10,000 brothers and more than 
66,000 women religious, not counting those in the Balkans or 
Communist China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. 
We must remember that as the pioneers of faith advance, they first 
create "missions" dependent upon the nearest apostolic prefect. 
When the mission attains a sufficient development, it, too, becomes 
a prefecture; later, and especially if a native clergy can be re 
cruited, it is made into an apostolic vicariate. When it acquires the 
necessary resources in personnel, institutions and money in other 
words, when it has become independent and self-supporting 
it may be made into a diocese. Still, it must remain dependent 
upon the Propaganda until Catholic life throughout the entire 
country has been definitely organized. 

Broadly, we may say that the Propaganda has jurisdiction 
over all Asia except the bishopric of Goa (the Portuguese posses 
sions in India), Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Transjordania, 
Asiastic Turkey; over all Africa, except Alberia, the dioceses of 
Carthage and Angola and Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula, Eritrea and 
Northern Ethiopia; all Oceania, except the Philippines; a part of 
South America, Central America, several islands of the Antilles, 
Mexico and Alaska. In Europe it has also under its care the 
Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, 
Sweden), the Latins of the Balkan States with the exception of 
Southern Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, the Dodecanese Is 
lands and Turkish Thrace; the latter depend now on the Sacred 
Congregation of the Oriental Church. 

The Propaganda controls societies of clerics and seminaries 
especially and uniquely destined for the missions other reli 
gious come under the Congregation of Religious, even when en 
gaged in mission work. For the countries submitted to it, the 
Propaganda up until 1908 wielded much of the power now 
divided among other bureaus of the Curia in the case of ordinary 
dioceses in countries not under its control. Following the reor 
ganization of Pius X, however, it has had certain limitations placed 
upon its powers. Strictly judicial matters are now referred to the 
Roman tribunals; and the Propaganda must refer to their respec 
tive Congregations matters concerning dogma, matrimonial cases 
and general liturgical rules. It still possesses, however, for terri 
tories submitted to it, those rights usually belonging to the 
Consistory, the Council, the Congregation of Sacraments (mar- 


riage questions excepted), and, finally, of the Congregation of 
Seminaries and Universities. 

The bishops, vicars and prefects of mission countries hand in 
not to the Consistory but to the Propaganda their quinquennial 
reports, prescribed in form and calling for detailed information 
of an administrative order. The Congregation is particularly in 
terested in the formation of a native clergy, and where it exists, 
requires an account of its work, disposition and relations with 
foreign missionaries. 

The necessity of providing missionaries with books of instruc 
tion, catechisms and prayer-books, brought about, as early as 
1626, the foundation of the Tipografia Poliglotta Vatic ana, which 
prints books in fifty or sixty languages. 

The question of finances is one of the most perplexing be 
fore the Propaganda, for it draws no revenue from the immense 
territory it administers; instead, it is faced with the problem of 
providing funds for the missions and their personnel. And not 
only must it bear the expenses of the missions themselves, but 
also of the institutions where young ecclesiastics are prepared for 
mission work, for instance of the Urban College in Rome. It 
must pay the traveling expenses of the missionaries to countries 
where they are studying, and furnish them with funds for chari 
table purposes. 

However, owing to the favors of the Popes and the great 
generosity of religious institutes and of the faithful in the mat 
ter of foreign missions, the Propaganda receives a large measure 
of help from various quarters. The Society for the Propagation 
of the Faith, founded in Lyons in 1822, has materially assisted 
the missionary work; indeed, so important is its part in the life 
of the missions that its headquarters were transferred to Rome in 
1922, as we have seen, and were attached to the Propaganda. Also 
attached to the headquarters of the Congregation of the Propa 
ganda are three other organizations for the aid of the missions. 
These are: the Pontificial Society of St. Peter the Apostle for the 
Native Clergy, which maintains diocesan seminaries and other 
seminaries in mission lands; the Pontificial Association of the Holy 
Childhood, founded in France in 1843 for the purpose of interest 
ing children in aiding the children in mission countries by their 
prayers and alms; and the Missionary Union of the Clergy, 

The Roman Congregations 113 

founded in 1937, with the purpose of arousing and sustaining a 
missionary spirit among clergy and religious. 

The Congregation of the Propaganda has a cardinal prefect, 
often referred to as the "Red Pope" because of the extent of the 
territory under his jurisdiction, and a pro-prefect who is also a 
cardinal. These dignitaries are assisted by some twenty-five other 
cardinals, and by secretaries, consultors, mlnutcmti^ archivists and 
librarians, protocolists, clerks, accountants and legal and technical 

Sacred Congregation of Rites 

At the present time, the Congregation of Rites deals with two 
special and very different fields: the liturgy of the Latin Church 
(not only the Roman rite, but of other Latin rites like the Lyon- 
naise, the Ambrosian and the Mozarabic), and causes of beatifica 
tion and canonization. Subtracted from its jurisdiction are liturgi 
cal matters in countries under the Congregation of the Oriental 

The Catholic Church has ever lifted her eyes toward heaven 
to seek models and protectors among the company of the blessed 
who have manifested heroic virtues on earth and whose names 
she may inscribe upon the calendar of the saints. The Holy See 
reserves to itself the power to canonize and to beatify (the 
difference between the two we shall explain a bit further on), 
and the Popes have always attached great importance to prudence 
in these matters, calling for a serious investigation of the virtues 
and miracles of candidates for liturgical honors. A special section 
of the Congregation of Rites is charged with the causes of 
beatification and canonization. In addition to the cardinal mem 
bers, a long list of personages (an apostolic protonotary, three 
auditors of the Rota, the Master of the Sacred Palace and a pro 
moter of the faith or "devil's advocate," and, since 1949, separate 
special colleges of consultors, postulators, lawyers, interpreters, 
medical experts for the study of miracles) take part in the pro 
ceedings. There is always at least one Dominican, one Franciscan, 
one Jesuit, one Conventual, one Barnabite, one Augustinian, one 
Minim, one Servite, one Carmelite, one Capuchin, one Benedictine, 
among the consultors. The proceedings are usually of consider 
able interest and we shall briefly summarize them as follows: 


Let us begin with beatification, as most beatified persons are 
later canonized. The two processes do not engage in the same 
measure the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff: beatification 
permits the faithful to render a deceased person certain liturgical 
honors; canonization affirms that the saint is enjoying celestial 
beatitude. A bull of canonization, but not a brief of beatification, 
engages the infallibility of the head of the Church, so much so 
that to deny the sainthood of a canonized person constitutes 
heresy. Secondly, the two acts have not the same application as 
to place: beatification authorizes a public cult only in a limited 
territory; canonization extends to the universal Church. Fur 
thermore, so far as the cult itself is concerned, beatification has 
not the effect of canonization. For example, it is impossible, with 
out special authorization, to name a church for a beatified person 
or to use his relics in an altar stone. 

Any Catholic individual or group may solicit the opening of 
a process of beatification, but this may only be accomplished 
through a postulator. This postulator must be a priest, either 
secular or religious, residing in Rome, and he must possess au 
thority to fulfill these duties before the Congregation of Rites. In 
the cause of St. Pius X, the postulator appointed to open the 
proceedings was Abbot Pierami, named by Pope Pius XI at the 
request of the Sacred College of Cardinals in February, 1923. 
Since Pius X's death in 1914 a Mass had been said on the twentieth 
of each month beside his tomb by Cardinal Merry del Val, and 
after this prelate's death in 1930, Cardinal Canali and others con 
tinued this tradition. In the meanwhile all over Italy and in 
deed throughout the world many spoke openly of Pius X as a 
saint and numerous miracles were said to have occurred as the 
result of his intercession. He had been dead less than nine years 
when his process was opened, and it was possible to obtain the 
depositions of many reliable witnesses who had known him. The 
informative process started in Rome and lasted for eight years 
during which fifty witnesses were heard, among them the sisters 
of the dead Pontiff, nine cardinals, four bishops, and close col 
laborators and servants. 

At the same time other informative processes were under 
taken in all those places where Pius X had lived before his eleva 
tion to the Papacy. In Treviso these proceedings went on for 

The Roman Congregations 1 1 5 

three years, for three years in Mantua, in Venice for seven, and a 
total of 154 depositions were obtained. (These depositions and 
other interrogations and findings fill 1,130 printed pages.) Many 
voluntary witnesses did not appear before the commission but 
communicated their testimony in sworn statements (these 
amount to 435 pages). 

At this point the case rested, and it was on February 12, 
1943, that Pius XII brought the cause before the Sacred Congre 
gation of Rites. All documents which up until this time had 
been collected and judged on the diocesan level were brought to 
Rome where the promoter general became Monsignor Natucci 
and the defender of the cause the Consistorial advocate G. B. 
Ferrata. The questions regarding the heroic virtues of Pope Pius 
were now examined as was the question of the miracles attributed 
to him. Again four processes took place: one in the Vatican be 
tween 1943 and 1946, in which thirty-six witnesses were heard; 
the second at Treviso between 1944 and 1946 with the hearing 
of thirteen witnesses; the third in Mantua, 1945-6, with eleven 
witnesses heard; the fourth in Venice between 1944 and 1946 
with twenty-nine witnesses heard. 

The "ante-preparatory" session of the Congregation of Rites 
was held in November, 1943, under the chairmanship of Cardinal 
Micara. Here the debate between the promoter of the faith and 
the advocate of the cause resulted in the decision that a request 
be sent to the historical section of the Sacred Congregation of 
Rites 13 for the examination of further documents proving that 
Pius X had exercised all the virtues in an heroic manner. This re 
search lasted for three and a half months, and many new letters, 
notes and unknown details of the life of Pius X were brought 

A second session (congregation) was held on April 18, 1950, 
and the final general congregation in the presence of Pius XII on 
August 8, 1950. On September 3, 1950, the Pope ordered that a 
decree should be issued declaring that "the Servant of God 
Pius X exercised in a heroic manner all the theological virtues 

13 Pius XI in his motu proprio of February 6, 1930 created a historical sec 
tion within the Congregation of Rites, charging it especially with the examina 
tion of all the documents concerning the ancient causes of canonization and 


of faith, hope and charity toward God and toward his neighbor; 
as well as all the cardinal virtues, namely prudence, justice, tem 
perance, fortitude and others." 

Next the miracles had to be proved. Twenty-eight miracles 
had been presented of which two had been chosen for submission 
to the medical section of the Congregation of Rites, a section com 
posed of eight eminent physicians. Finally, in a decree of Febru 
ary n, 1951, Pius XII declared the authenticity of the two 
miracles and nine days later gave the decision: Tuto procedi 
potest. On March 4, 1951, the Pope ordered the promulgation and 
publication of the decree of the Congregation of Rites for the 
beatification of Pope Pius X. This solemn ceremony took place 
June 3, 1951, in St. Peter's Basilica. 

Pius X had now become Blessed Pius X, and the process of his 
canonization followed shortly. The process was resumed in No 
vember, 1951, for the purpose of securing approval of two new 
miracles which had occurred in the dioceses of Naples and 
Palermo. Letters had been sent to the archbishops of these 
places and upon receipt of information from them a new congre 
gation was held in the presence of the Pope on November 17, 
1952. In this congregation the cardinal prelates and the consultors 
pronounced their views on the evidence submitted; the Holy 
Father however refrained from making an immediate declaration 
in order to ask more enlightenment from the Lord. He later on 
declared that he would give this final decision January 17, 1954, 
and on this date, after celebration of Mass, the congregation was 
called in general session and Pius XII pronounced the two miracles 
as authentic. The canonization of St. Pius X followed on May 29, 
1954, and September 3 was established as the feast of St. Pius X 
for the universal Church. 

One of the most interesting causes of beatification both for 
the time element involved and the vicissitudes with which it met 
is the one, completed within the past few years, of Pope In 
nocent XI who lived during the seventeenth century and who can 
be credited with the liberation of Eastern and Central Europe 
from the Turks. He had thwarted the plans of the sultan who 
was certain that, after having occupied Hungary, he would be 
able to take Vienna and then invade the Italian peninsula and, as 
he promised, "to use Peter's Basilica as a stable for the horses of 
the Imperial Court of Constantinople." Innocent XI was great in 

The Roman Congregations 1 1 7 

many other respects: he opposed the Gallicanism of Louis XIV, 
condemned quietism and cleansed the papal administration of cor 
ruption and nepotism. The people of Rome saw still another 
greatness that of sanctity in this Pope, and after his death in 
numerable voices were raised asking that he should be proclaimed 
a saint. 

The process of beatification of Innocent XI started two years 
after his death, namely, in 1691. The ordinary process con 
cerning his virtues was closed in 1698, and the introduction of 
his cause was approved in June 1714, only twenty-five years after 
his death. The promoter of the faith was the famous Cardinal 
Lambertini (who later became Pope under the name of Bene 
dict XIV). The validity of these processes (ending in 1723) 
was discussed and approved in the ordinary congregation of 
1736 under the pontificate of Clement XII. 

In the meantime, however, a booklet appeared in France en 
titled Dictionnctire historique et critique which was filled with 
accusations against Innocent XL The promoter of the faith, whose 
duty it is to raise all possible objections, thus considered it his 
duty to use the accusations made in this work against the pro 
posed beatification. The examination of the accusations lasted al 
most twenty-five years, and resulted in the total clearing of the 
charges. In 1744 the cause was ready for the next step, and all 
testimony was printed and distributed. At this moment, however, 
the French government of that day raised new objections because 
it was evident that the information in the documents proving the 
heroic virtues of Innocent XII was derogatory to Louis XIV be 
cause of the King's negotiations with the Turks and his lack of 
cooperation with the rest of Christendom. Detailed reports from 
the apostolic nuncio in Paris, Carlo Francesco Durini, informed 
Pope Benedict XIV of these facts and that Pope decided that the 
cause should rest, replying to Nuncio Durini in October, 1745 
that "Innocent XI will not be canonized during Our lifetime." 
The cause was not brought forward again until 1889, when several 
new biographies of Innocent XI were published, but even then it 
was not resumed. Some small progress was made during the 
pontificate of Pius XI who appointed a new ponente to the cause, 
but only during the pontificate of Pius XII were all processes and 
acts put together to prepare a new positio super virtutibus end 
ing in the beatification of Pope Innocent in October, 1956. 


The Catholic Church has always held that the form of wor 
ship is an expression, perhaps the most faithful, of the belief itself. 
It leaves no matter of liturgical procedure unregulated, and in the 
matter of the sacraments, especially of the celebration of the 
Mass, the Congregation of Rites takes up all questions of out 
ward form or execution not prescribed by the Congregation of 
Sacraments. Such questions as the official text of prayers, sacred 
music, the attitude and gestures of the celebrants of the offices 
and their assistants, the form of liturgical ornaments, vestments 
and furnishings, the arrangement and decoration of churches are 
reserved to the Congregation of Rites. 14 

This same bureau prepares revised editions of the breviary, 
of the missal, the ritual, the pontifical, the ceremonial for bishops, 
the martyrology. It draws up formulas for the blessing of places 
not necessarily of an ecclesiastical nature for instance of homes, 
of libraries, of archives of airplanes (it has even published the 
text for the benediction of seismographs). It prescribes rules 
for the celebration of feasts of the Church; it authorizes or rejects 
the innovations of modern art in church vestments, sculpture and 

The Congregation of Rites is also charged with the question 
of the regulation of the cult of relics. It is, perhaps, well to ex 
plain here what the Church means by relics. A relic is not neces 
sarily a part of the body of a saint, nor even of his clothing. It 
was customary in the early days of Christianity to celebrate the 
divine sacrifice over the tombs of the martyrs, and this before 
the practice arose of dividing their remains. It was not possible, 
of course, for every altar to be erected over such a sepulcher and 
it was deemed sufficient to deposit in each a "memorial," a "gage," 
an object which in some way would invoke the recollection of 
the confessor of the faith. These were sometimes an object having 
touched the body of the saint sometimes a piece of linen marked 
with several drops of his blood but oftener still it was a small vial 
containing a little oil taken from the lamp that burned beside his 
tomb. Even today when at least two relics from the bodies of 
martyr-saints are required for an altar, we must sometimes give 
this broad and primitive sense to the word "relic." In this way we 
may explain the numerous relics of St. Peter many churches 
14 See also Ch. xix, "The Liturgy." 

The Roman Congregations 1 1 9 

possess them and yet we know that the tomb of the chief of the 
Apostles was unopened for centuries. Of course, this is not always 
the case, and a great many of the relics honored today are really 
parts of the mortal body of some saint or at least of his cloth 

The Congregation of Rites does not distribute relics its main 
object is to prevent abuses in the cult of which they are the 
object. It regulates the exposition of relics, the form of reliquaries, 
and pronounces on questions of authenticity. Certain relics re 
quire special authorization to be transferred from one church to 
another; the Congregation of Rites gives or refuses the permission, 
as well as that for the public veneration of relics of persons not 
canonized but simply beatified. 

The liturgy being a matter having to do very largely with 
symbolism and history, the congregation must be composed of 
experts in this field. Its personnel is recruited from among his 
torians, rubricists, hagiographers (specialists in the study of the 
lives of saints), and musicians of the Church. At present it counts 
some twenty cardinals as members, and is presided over by a 
cardinal prefect. 

Sacred Congregation of Ceremonies 

Formerly a part of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, this 
bureau regulates the ceremonies to be observed in the Pontifical 
Chapel and Court, as well as the functions which the cardinals 
perform outside of the Pontifical Chapel; and it settles questions 
of precedence among the cardinals and ambassadors from foreign 
nations to the Holy See. Thus we see its main field of action is in 
Rome itself. It is always presided over by the Cardinal Dean of 
the Sacred College, and its members are other cardinals well 
versed in ceremonial questions, a secretary (who might be one 
of the papal masters of ceremonies), a sub-secretary and an aide. 
In addition to the above, it includes a restricted number of con 
sultants as well as all masters of pontifical ceremonies, the latter 
being members in their own right. 

It is this congregation which sends out papal legates, assisted 
by one or several members of the Noble Guard, these legates 
having as their mission to represent the Holy See on solemn oc 


Sacred Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs 

Unlike the other congregations, this bureau does not take 
measures of its own accord or, properly speaking, give decisions. 
It gives advice which the Pope may take if he wishes, and for 
the carrying out of which he takes personal responsibility. The 
scope of the congregation was defined in Pope Pius' constitution of 
1908 as follows: "It has to do only with matters which the 
Sovereign Pontiff refers to its examination through the Cardinal 
Secretary of State; especially with the most important diplomatic 
problems between the Vatican and the governments of the world." 
Since 1908, however, its jurisdiction has been enlarged to include 
the affairs of certain countries where ecclesiastical conditions are 
regulated by concordats and involve dealings with the civil au 
thorities in such matters as the appointment of bishops, division of 
dioceses, etc. We have seen previously that the power of the Con 
sistory does not extend to countries under these conditions; and as 
the conclusion of concordats is becoming more and more fre 
quent, the role of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesias 
tical Affairs is extremely active. 

As the business before the body is largely a matter of diplo 
macy, we can understand its close relation to the Secretariat of 
State. 15 Under Pius XI the Papal Secretary of State was also the 
prefect of the Congregation of Extraordinary Affairs, but under 
Pius XII this position has not been filled and Monsignor Tardini, 
Pro-Secretary of State for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, 
works with the cardinals of the congregation. As the question 
of the episcopal appointments is often before the congregation, 
its personnel includes the cardinal secretaries of the Holy Office 
and of the Consistory. Most of the functionaries of the Congre 
gation for Extraordinary Affairs belong also to the Secretariat of 
State, of which they form a section, that of Extraordinary Affairs, 
having the same secretary and sub-secretary, minutanti, archivists, 
attaches and consultants. The secretary of the congregation is also 
the presiding officer of the Pontifical Commission for Russia, a 
body which has in charge the Russian clergy and faithful of the 
Latin rite. 

15 See "The Roman Offices," pp. 142-6. 

The Roman Congregations 1 2 1 

Sacred Congregation of Semnaries and Universities 

This congregation exercises its action over all Catholic univer 
sities or faculties of study in every country and over seminaries 
and religious novitiates throughout the world, except those in 
countries under the Congregations of the Propaganda and that of 
the Oriental Church. 

In Catholic establishments of higher learning, the congregation 
may intervene in the nomination of rectors, deans and even 
professors. It has submitted to it programs of study, of special 
rules for examinations and competitions, and it oversees the 
orthodoxy of teaching. The financial regime of these institutions 
is also an object of its interest. In countries where Catholic organi 
zations of this kind are incorporated into State universities, the 
part of the congregation in their government is regulated by the 
provisions of a concordat. 

The seminaries were placed under this congregation as late as 
1915, by Pope Benedict XV. They came formerly within the 
province of the Consistorial Congregation, which has not lost in 
terest in the matter. We will recall that a section of the quinquen 
nial report of a bishop must be devoted to the subject of semi 
naries in his dioceses. This explains the presence of the prefect of 
the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities in the Congrega 
tion of the Consistory and, vice-versa, the Cardinal Secretary of 
the Consistory is a member of the Congregation of Seminaries 
and Universities, while an assessor of each congregation is one of 
the assessors of the other. Once in every three years the bishops 
must hand in answers to a questionnaire submitted by this bureau 
regarding the condition of seminaries. If between these reports a 
seminary adopts a new manual of philosophy, or theology, of 
Holy Scripture or canon law, the bishops must at once inform 
the congregation. The questionnaire, divided into seven articles, 
requires particulars regarding the personnel of the seminaries, 
their buildings, financial situation, piety and discipline, studies, 
ordination and the personal relations of the bishops with the semi 
naries as well as what has been done in the matter of recruiting 
new priests. Pius XII in his motu proprio, Cwn Nobir, of Novem 
ber 4, 1941, instituted within this congregation the "Pontifical 
Work for Vocations to the Priesthood" which has as its object the 


aid and maintenance of vocations and of "uniting the faithful all 
over the world in prayers for this purpose." 

Sacred Congregation of the Fabric of St. Peter's 
The origin of this congregation dates back to Pope Julius II 
who in 1550 granted special favors to those who contributed to 
the reconstruction of the Vatican basilica, i.e. helped in building 
the present St. Peter's. Clement VII appointed a commission of 
sixty members to superintend the construction and administration 
of die new basilica and later replaced this group by a congregation 
of cardinals of whom the arch-priest of St. Peter's was the prefect. 
In 1751 Pope Benedict XIV drew up regulations for the administra 
tion of St. Peter's which are still in force. 

This congregation administers the endowment of the basilica 
and deals with questions pertaining to the upkeep and repair of 
the basilica and of the Vatican Palaces. The congregation has an 
administrative and a technical section and a studio of mosaics. The 
new excavations under St. Peter's are being carried out under the 
supervision of this congregation. 



THE CONGREGATIONS of the Curia which we have re 
viewed are especially and above all administrative bodies except 
the Holy Office and questions, even of a disciplinary nature sub 
mitted to them for settlement are usually regulated by a general 
rule for the common good, rather than out of strict regard to mat 
ters of law in each case. The tribunals of the Church, sitting in 
Rome, however, are legal institutions for the application of the 
Code of Canon Law, rendering strictly judicial sentences in 
controversies between individuals, or between moral persons and 
physical individuals. As each of the tribunals possesses a different 
and very distinctive character, as well as an organization suited to 
its needs, a study of the ensemble or of traits common to all is not 
necessary, as in the case of the Congregations. 

Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary 

The first and oldest of the tribunals, this court takes cogni 
zance of all matters relative to the -forum internum (the con 
science), and is, so to speak, a continuation of the tribunal of the 
sacrament of Penance. The Penitentiary proceeds without formali 
ties, and accords absolutions, dispensations and faculties. Evidently 
there is no cause for recourse to its jurisdiction except in re 
served cases, that is, when absolution cannot be granted by an 
ordinary confessor. The average Catholic might never have occa 
sion to resort to its judgments, and as its work is of a very delicate 
and confidential nature, we hear little about it, for those matters 
with which it deals are without effect in public life: no civil judge 


may take into account the judgments of the Penitentiary, and its 
absolutions and dispensations are rendered only in "the internal 
forum," for the peace of souls. 

As a court, its jurisdiction is unique, the Church exercising 
over the faithful a much greater authority than civil societies over 
the actions of their members an authority extending to thoughts 
and deeds unknown to any save to the person concerned and to 
their consciences. Civil societies are interested in public order, 
infractions of law being forbidden or punished only if they are 
known. The Church has another aim: to lead men to eternal 
life; it has the power "to bind and to loose." Consequently, in 
addition to offenses against Christian society, it occupies itself 
with secret acts which affect the relations of the soul with God. 
It is this last category of matters which are dealt with by the 
Sacred Penitentiary. 

The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary now includes, besides the 
Cardinal Major Penitentiary, the following members: the regent, 
the theologian, an assistant theologian, the datary, the corrector, 
the sealer, the canonist, the secretary, two substitutes, three scrit- 
tore or writers, a registrar and an archivist. A group of prelates 
attached to the Penitentiary forms the Signatura of the Sacred 
Penitentiary and assists the Cardinal Penitentiary in the more 
complex and grave cases. The Sacred Penitentiary today is com 
posed of two sections: the Tribunal proper and the Section of 
Indulgences, 1 and all other cases are treated in separate assemblies 
of one of its two sections. Such a congresso is composed of three 
members: i) the regent of the Penitentiary; 2) the secretary of 
the Penitentiary; and 3) one of the substitute secretaries, depend 
ing on which section is holding its meeting. The congresso may 
transfer a case to the Tribunal of the Signatura, and the final de 
cision regarding this remains in the hands of the Cardinal Major 

The Cardinal Major Penitentiary is the principal personage of 
the tribunal, and all its decisions are rendered in his name. Usually 
he makes a special study in each case, and sometimes even reaches 
a decision without consulting other members; in a very grave in- 

1 This section was transferred from the Holy Office to the Penitentiary 
by Pope Benedict XV in 1917. The Penitentiary now makes the dogmatic 
study of prayers for which indulgences are requested and, if the conclusions 
are favorable, grants the indulgences attached to the recitation of the prayer. 

The Roman Tribunals 1 2 5 

stance he refers the matter to the Pope. He is appointed for life, 
and his powers do not cease during the vacancy of the Holy See. 
Should the Major Penitentiary die during the vacancy of the Holy 
See or within the Conclave, the cardinals are bound to appoint an 
other Major Penitentiary at once, because this office cannot re 
main vacant even for a brief time and the Sacred Penitentiary 
must be quick to act and cannot delay in decisions involving the 
health and salvation of souls. He alone has the right to receive and 
dispatch sealed letters while a Conclave is in session, a time when 
all other correspondence is restricted and subject to censorship. 
He may give permissions and make decisions during the vacancy 
of the Holy See, even in such cases as are reserved usually for the 

It is the Cardinal Penitentiary who assists the Sovereign Pontiff 
on his deathbed and gives him absolution. He also marks the 
Pope's brow with ashes on Ash Wednesday (when out of respect 
for the exalted rank of the Vicar of Christ, the words, "Remem 
ber, man, thou art dust," are omitted). During Holy Week this 
Cardinal Penitentiary occupies in rotation the "penitentiary 
thrones" in each of the great basilicas (St. John Lateran on Palm 
Sunday, St. Mary Major on Wednesday, St. Peter's Basilica on 
Holy Thursday and Good Friday). 

At the beginning and end of the Holy Years, the Cardinal 
Major Penitentiary takes an important part in the ceremonies. 
He presents to the Pope the gold and ivory hammer with which 
five knocks are made on the Holy Door of St. Peter's; three 
knocks by the Sovereign Pontiff himself, the other two by the 
Penitentiary. At the close of the jubilee year, when the Door 
must again be sealed, the same dignitary hands to the Pope the 
silver trowel to lay on the first mortar. 

The Regent of the Sacred Penitentiary occupies, in relation to 
the head of the tribunal, a position similar to that of secretary to 
the prefect of a congregation; he signs documents in the absence 
of the Cardinal Penitentiary and conducts the ordinary affairs of 
the tribunal; he is chosen by the Pope, but his written appoint 
ment comes from the Grand Penitentiary. 

The Sacred Penitentiary gives not only absolution, but dis 
pensations, commutations, "sanations" and condonations. Absolu 
tion is given in those cases reserved to the Holy See, in other 
words for transgressions which cannot be dealt with by confessors 


or the bishops of dioceses. Dispensations are given in multiple 
cases: for individual obligations or vows when they are not known 
to the public and may be broken without scandal, as for instance 
when a person makes a vow the accomplishment of which he finds 
beyond his forces; for impediments to marry when they are of 
an "occult" nature, as for instance impediments because of crime 
or relationships resulting from adultery. By "sanations" we under 
stand the retroactive validation of an act that was invalid because 
of some impediment; the sanation either grants a dispensation or 
takes into account the fact it no longer exists. 

The Sacred Penitentiary, in very rare cases and for sufficient 
and grave cause, may also grant condonations or remissions of 
debts. Thus, for instance, if a heritage were accepted under con 
ditions, oral or secret, but accepted, and the beneficiary later 
found himself unable to fulfill those conditions without grave in 
jury to himself or others, he would address himself to the Peni 

This Tribunal never deals directly with those who have re 
course to its intervention, nor is the Sacred Penitentiary informed 
of the identity of those who apply for its decision. The invio 
lable seal of the confessional is involved and it is usually the con 
fessor of the person concerned who presents such cases under 
some fictitious name. This confessor surrounds his request with 
every precaution, placing his letter in a double sealed envelope 
even if it is transmitted through a diocesan bureau. The answer 
from the Penitentiary comes in an envelope addressed to the con 
fessor but containing another sealed envelope inside addressed 
"To any confessor of the penitent's choice from among those 
approved by the local Ordinary." The confessor must turn over 
this sealed envelope to the penitent who is free to have it opened 
by the priest acquainted with the case or to take it to another. 

Supreme Apostolic Signatura 

This Tribunal may be roughly termed the Supreme Court of 
the Catholic Church and there is no appeal from its decisions. Its 
procedure was codified by Paul HI in 1540, constituting it the 
ecclesiastical court of appeal and revision. Its present composi 
tion, jurisdiction and procedure are based on three documents: 
the Lex propria, annexed to the constitution Sapienti consilio of 
1908 (which completely revised the scope and powers of the old 

The Roman Tribunals 127 

Signatura), the Regulae servandae, approved by Pius X in 1912, 
and the autographed instructions of Benedict XV, dated June 28, 
1915. The Code of Canon Law has modified its charter on two 
points only. 

The tribunal of the Signatura, unlike the Rota, is composed of 
cardinal judges. Under the present Code, there is no restriction to 
their number usually around ten. Their decisions are made in 
full session, being presided over by a prefect, aided by a prelate 
secretary chosen by the Holy Father. The personnel also includes 
a notary, a custodian of records, and two subsidiary colleges, or 
boards: a college of voting prelates and a college of prelates refer- 

The ordinary category of cases decided by the Signatura are 
as follows: 

1. Violation of professional secrecy by auditors of the Rota, or any 
damages done by them in an unjust or invalid proceeding, 

2. "Exceptions of suspicion" against auditors of the Rota, Le., doubt 
of impartiality of these judges, 

3. Revision of decisions of the Rota, 

4. Restitutio in integrum against judgments rendered by the Rota, i.e., 
canon law, like Roman law, admits that in case of grave and flagrant 
wrongs resulting from a legal judgment which cannot be attacked 
in the ordinary way, a competent jurisdiction may re-establish the 
plaintiff in the statu quo ante, 

5. The restitutio in integrum may be applied only to cases definitely 
decided. Certain sentences do not fully make clear the status of per 
sons concerned for instance in marriage cases, a marriage is valid 
or it is not; sometimes the status of the person concerned remains 
in suspense to leave the interested party free to present supplemen 
tary arguments. And it may happen that the Rota refuses to reopen 
a case which it considers it has examined sufficiently. Appeal in these 
instances are made to the Apostolic Signatura, 

6. Conflict of jurisdiction between two ecclesiastical courts, for in 
stance between two metropolitan courts. In such cases, appeal may 
be made either to the papal nuncio of the country, or to the Apostolic 

7. Cases in which the exclusive competence of the Signatura has been 
recognized in particular instances by a State which has signed a 
concordat with the Holy See, for instance Italy and Portugal in 
regard to the validity of church marriages. 

The same tribunal also examines certain legal matters regard 
ing Vatican City and cases submitted to the Sovereign Pontiff for 
extraordinary judgments here tendering him their advice, rather 


than making a legal judgment. The procedure of the Signatura is 
somewhat like those of the congregations, with the difference 
given by its legal character. Unlike other tribunals, and especially 
the Rota, however, it does not have to set forth in its decisions the 
reasons for its judgments. 

Sacred Roman Rota 

The Tribunal of the Rota, which takes its name from the re 
volving table at which the judges formerly sat, is one of the oldest 
bureaus of the Curia. It existed long before the creation of the 
congregations of cardinals when the Popes, in a first effort to 
lighten the labors of the consistories, had certain causes examined 
by chaplains occupying in the Curia a rank immediately after the 
cardinals. These officials examined cases referred from all parts of 
the world, and when the matter was ready for consideration, laid 
them before the Sovereign Pontiff, who himself made the deci 
sions. This was the origin of the tribunal or auditorium of the 
Rota, and for many years it judged the chief ecclesiastical proc 
esses of Christianity (as well as the temporal suits in which the 
Pontifical States were involved); it was called by several Popes 
"the Supreme Court of the Christian World." After the creation 
of the Roman congregations by Sixtus V, many categories of con 
tentions were gradually taken from the Rota, and with the abolish 
ment of the Papal States in 1 870, its power would appear to have 
been greatly diminished. But the venerable institution was re 
stored to much of its influence by Pius X in 1908, and has become 
again one of the most interesting and active tribunals in existence. 

In the constitution Sapienti consilio., Pope Pius stated: "Basing 
our action on that of our predecessors, Sixtus V, Innocent XII, 
and Pius VI, we order and ordain that all contentious matters, both 
civil and criminal, which call for judicial action with witnesses, 
testimony, etcetera, be referred to the Tribunal of the Rota (ex 
ception is made of the so-called major cases)." The organization 
of the Rota was regulated by the same document as follows: The 
Sacred Roman Rota is composed of ten prelates, called auditors, 
chosen by the Roman Pontiff. They must be priests and of ma 
ture age, doctors at least of theology and canon law, notable for 
the dignity of their lives, their prudence and their juridical knowl 
edge. At the age of seventy-five they became emeriti and cease to 
be active judges. The body is presided over by a dean, who is 

The Roman Tribunals 129 

only the first among equals. Auditors who violate secrecy or who, 
through culpable negligence or deceit, cause injury to the con 
testing parties, are required to make good this damage; and they 
must be punished either on the demand of the injured party, or by 
the Apostolic Signatura, the sentence being confirmed below." 
These regulations were not greatly altered by the Canon Code of 
1917, the principal change being that instead of fixing the prel 
ates at ten, the new constitution simply said that the Rota was to 
be composed "of a certain number of auditors." Nothing is said 
in either regulation about the distribution of the auditors by 
nationality incidentally they are not all Italians and the present 
dean is a Frenchman. The present rules governing the Rota were 
published in 1934 under the title Normae S. Romanae Rotae 

Each of the auditors of the Rota is assisted in a part of his 
work by an cdutante di studio, who may be either an ecclesiastic 
or a lay person, provided he has a doctor's degree in canon law 
and is of irreproachable character. This functionary is chosen by 
the auditor he is to assist; his appointment must be approved by 
the college of judges and by the Holy Father himself. Other 
officials of the tribunal: a promoter of justice who is something 
like a prosecuting attorney and who defends the public interests; 
a "defender of the bond" who has an assistant or substitute and 
whose services are necessary in application for annulment of 
marriage; three notaries or clerks, one of whom keeps the minutes 
of proceedings, also several other clerks and accountants. All the 
personnel of the Rota are on the payroll of the Holy See. 

In theory everyone must appear personally to defend his 
cause before the Rota, but, as in any other court, it is difficult 
to forego the services of specialists acquainted with the law and 
procedure of the court. The advocates or lawyers practicing 
before the Rota are not a part of its personnel, but must be 
acceptable to it. They must pass an examination before the 
auditors, must be doctors in canon law, and must have studied 
for three years at the special school for lawyers attached to the 
tribunal. They must take an oath to fulfill their duties conscien 
tiously and, when requested by the dean, to lend their assistance 
gratis to indigent persons coming before the tribunal. 

The Roman Rota dispenses justice in two ways either three 
(or more) judges sitting in turn, or the whole tribunal sitting. 


The mechanism of the rotation of judges and all the procedure 
of the Court is regulated with meticulous care and shows the 
ardent desire of the Church that its justice be above reproach. 
When the courts sit by threes, the judge whose appointment 
bears the earliest date, presides over the session and acts as 
ponente. The debates are conducted in writing, although oral 
discussions sometimes take place when they are necessary to 
throw light upon questions of detail. Such an audience is given 
in the presence of the three judges in a session presided by the 
ponente, and a stenographic report made of the proceedings. 
The first pleading of the case by the lawyer of the defendant is 
printed and a number of copies must be deposited with the clerk. 
Unless an exception is permitted by the ponente, it must not 
exceed twenty pages. The lawyer of the plaintiff has twenty 
days to reply, and has right to ten pages, printed. Replies and 
counterreplies are permitted, so we can form an idea of the mass 
of material to be examined and weighed by the judges. 

We must remember that the Rota is a court of appeal; few 
cases come before it in first instance. A case already pleaded 
before a diocesan official may be referred either to the tribunal 
of the metropolitan (the archbishop of a province consisting of 
several dioceses) or to the Rota. In canon law for a sentence 
to be final, i.e. no longer susceptible to appeal, it must confirm a 
previous sentence; in other words, the same suit must have ob 
tained concordant decisions in two successive instances. If, on the 
contrary, the two sentences are contradictory, the party which 
loses the second instance may make a new appeal. If the first 
appeal is made to the metropolitan, it comes next before the Rota; 
if the Rota has already given a judgment, the case may come 
before it a second time, but none of the three judges may be the 
same, the order in which they sit being regulated in order to 
prevent this. 

The Rota is not competent as a court of first instance with 
two exceptions: in civil cases when bishops are involved, or 
when one of the parties to the dispute is a moral ecclesiastical 
personage having no superior other than the Pope as dioceses 
or certain religious orders and congregations. 

It was the following clause in the constitution Sapienti consilio 
of 1908, "All contentious causes, not of major importance, treated 
by the Roman Curia, shall henceforth be judged before the 

The Roman Tribunals 1 3 r 

Tribunal of the Rota" which flooded that court with those cases 
now most discussed in connection with it, namely, requests for 
the annulment of marriage. This category of cases is far greater 
than any other kind judged by the tribunal, but they are by no 
means the only matter submitted to it. 

As to annulments of marriage, of course the Rota cannot 
declare null a marriage which was really valid; it can only examine 
and discover, if it is there, the nullity of a union which presents 
an appearance of validity. Its investigations are as carefully made 
as those of any court in the world. A reader of the decisions of the 
Roman Rota in any case would be assured by the nature and 
amount of testimony, and the painstaking consideration of law 
and motives, that the procedure was all in strictest compliance 
with canon law. The opinion often heard expressed when cases 
involving wealthy or prominent persons are being heard, that 
only such cases are able to secure annulment because of the cost 
involved, is not supported by the facts. 

It is true that a lengthy procedure on the part of a court not 
supported, as are civil courts, by the laying of taxes and contribu 
tions, will involve costs, but within the court itself none of the 
lawyers are allowed to set arbitrary fees. Moreover, canon 1914 
of the Code of Canon Law declares: "Poor persons, entirely 
unable to pay, are entitled to assistance gratis; those who are 
not, have a right to a reduction of costs.' 5 The advocates practicing 
before the Rota are required by oath to provide assistance in 
these cases. 

Here are some figures in the matter more powerful than any 
argument: A report on the activity of the Rota in 1955 shows that 
251 decisions were handed down by it in that year. 2 Of these, 
247 cases concerned appeals for a declaration of nullity of mar 
riage, and two were applications for separation. In addition there 
was a decision in a dispute involving a building contract in 
Mexico, and one concerning a seizure of documents. Of the 247 
marriage decisions, 108 marriages were declared null and void, 
while 139 decisions upheld the validity of the marriages. As for 
the financial costs to the persons referring these cases to the 
Rota, in more than 43% of them no fees were charged, and the 
expenses were paid by the Holy See. 

2 Report released by the Vatican News Service, transmitted by N.C.W.C. 
News Service, January 30, 1956. 


The decisions of the Rota are listed once a year in A eta 
Apostolicae Sedis, and sometimes a Rotal decision is published 
here in full, particularly when the case offers special interest of a 
legal nature. Most of the decisions appear later, however, in a 
separate publication, issued under the care of the dean of the 
Rota; proper names are not given, being replaced by the diocese 
of the applicants and the name of the lawyers and advocates plead 
ing before the court, as well as those of the judges deciding the 


THE ROMAN CONGREGATIONS, as we have seen, have an 
element common to all, likewise the Roman Tribunals; the duties 
of the former class being an administrative nature, of the latter, 
judicial. Not so with the Roman Offices; they are a heterogeneous 
number of bureaus which cannot be placed in either of the other 
two classifications, and whose duties differ greatly in scope and 
importance. The Chancery and Secretariat of Briefs transact the 
actual business of drawing up pontificial documents; the Secre 
tariat of State extends its activity throughout the world in the 
diplomatic and political fields (like any ministry of foreign 
affairs);, the Apostolic Camera is a papal ministry of finance with 
limited powers; the Dataria, which formerly controlled all sup 
plications addressed to the Sovereign Pontiff, has lost most of its 
former glory and now grants minor ecclesiastical benefits not ad 
ministered by the Congregation of the Consistory or Propaganda. 

Apostolic Chancery 

This is the bureau charged with the preparation and expedition 
of apostolic bulls, concerning the appointment of bishops, erec 
tion of new dioceses, canonization of saints, announcements of 
councils or of a Holy Year, and other important affairs of the 

Papal bulls are much less used than in former times, now 
being replaced in matters not of the highest importance by 
briefs. The latter are prepared by the Secretariat of Briefs. The 
bull is the work of the Chancery; it takes its name from the 


leaden seal (bulla) which marks its authenticity as the oldest form 
of pontifical letter. To anticipate this very question of the nature 
of communications emanating from the Pope personally (not 
from the congregations) which will arise again in dealing with 
the Secretariat of Briefs to Princes and Latin Letters, we might say 
a few words here regarding the forms, contents and appearances 
of the different kinds of papal letters (litterae decretales), the 
autograph (chirographzim), the encyclical (litterae encyclicae), 
the apostolic epistle (epistola apostolica), the apostolic constitu 
tion, the motu proprio, the apostolic letter (litterae apostolicas), 
the simple letter (epistola). 

Aside from the autograph letter, ordinarily addressed to a 
cardinal, usually to the Secretary of State, in which the Holy 
Father informally states his views on some important point but 
does not formulate an administrative measure, the papal letters fall 
into their various classifications much less because of their exterior 
form than because of their subject matter. Decretal letters are 
usually the official proclamation of a canonization. Encyclicals, 
the most familiar to laity and the most widely published, gener 
ally refer to a subject of interest to Catholics throughout the 
world: social justice, modernism, birth control, etc., the Pope 
addressing them "to our Venerable Brethren, Patriarchs, Primates, 
Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries enjoying Peace 
and Union with the Apostolic See." It is the duty of these officials 
to see that the contents are made known widely among the faith 
ful. The epistola apostolic a usually contains instructions to an 
individual or group, especially to guide them in some grave situa 
tion in their part of the world. In other words, it is a letter of 
public character, but not like the encyclicals which are of uni 
versal interest. 

So far we have spoken of pontifical letters, tracing a line of 
conduct or giving instructions or advice not, however, of those 
of an administrative or legislative order. Under the three follow 
ing forms the Pontiff makes regulations, modifies other regula 
tions and prescribes rules to be followed: the motu proprio is not 
necessarily due to the initiative of the Pope, but he takes full 
responsibility for the rules set forth in such a document, ordi 
narily addressed to no person in particular. For instance, certain 
matters of liturgical music were regulated by Pius X in this way. 
It is an edict or decree in the usual sense of the term. The apos- 

\an Offices r 3 j 

tolic constitution has to do with the establishment or modifica- 
tion of ecclesiastical territories or institutions. The litterae ctpos- 
tolicae differs but little from it, being in many cases a letter on a 
similar subject but dealing with the vicariate or a prefecture 
rather than a diocese. The simple epistolae of the Holy Father 
are letters written by him of an ordinary or, we might say, 
social nature congratulations, expressing good wishes or thanks. 
These are addressed to cardinals, bishops, religious or lay people 
on the occasion of jubilees, anniversaries, conferences, marriages, 

Decretal letters (proclaiming canonizations) and apostolic con 
stitutions usually form the subjects of bulls; and are issued by the 
Apostolic Chancery. The bull is written on antique parchment, 
the brief on vellum. The bull bears the lead seal and the signature 
not only of the Pope, but of the Chancellor, the cardinal chief 
of the bureau dealing with the subject treated, and of two apos 
tolic protonotaries. The matrice for the seal of each Pope attached 
to his bulls is engraved with the heads of Peter and Paul facing 
each other and separated by a small Latin cross, on the reverse 
being the name of the reigning Pope, as "Pius Papa XII." At the 
death of a Pope this matrice is solemnly broken, and one of the 
first acts of his successor is to have engraved his own to attach to 
documents drawn up during his pontificate. At the head of the 
bull, the Pontiff is referred to as "Bishop, servant of the servants 
of God"; the brief does not use these words, but gives the 
Pope's name. Bulls are drawn up but not delivered by the Chan 
cery; they are sent for transmission by the bureau of the Curia 
which submitted the affair most often the Congregation of the 

The personnel of the Chancery is no longer so great or so 
important as in other times. It is now composed of a regent, two 
minutanti, an archivist-protocolist and three copyists or writers, 
one of whom acts as sealer. The force is under the supervision of 
the Cardinal Chancellor, a dignitary of the Church, who in the 
Middle Ages enjoyed great powers. The office had been empty 
for many centuries when restored by the Sapienii consilio in 
1908 to a position of usefulness but not to its former glory. The 
appointment of the Cardinal Chancellor and that of the Cardinal 
Chamberlain (Camerlengo) are the only ones made in consistory, 
and in this assembly the Chancellor holds his traditional office as 


notary. The regent who assists him in the active work of the 
bureau is responsible for the drawing up of the papal bulls in the 
form and wording established from time immemorial. The copy 
ists in this bureau must be masters of penmanship, although they 
are no longer required to use the special writing called bollatica 
or "letter of St. Peter" (in ancient characters and without punctu 
ation), which was used until 1878, when abolished by a motu, 
proprio of Leo XIII. 

Apostolic Dataria 

The Dataria originally formed a part of the Apostolic Chan 
cery, and the prelate at its head long enjoyed one of the most 
powerful posts in the government of the Church. This came 
about from the fact that no petition to the Pope could be granted 
until the date was officially affixed. This had to be done before 
the Pontiff, and gave the official charged with dating access to 
his presence at all times. It gradually came about that he was the 
one who presented the petitions to the Pope, and much of their 
fate depended on his recommendations. The Dataria also kept 
the registers of favors granted, and to it were entrusted the alms 
to which these grants often gave rise. As his task increased, the 
necessity for aid arose and an auxiliary was given him. Docu 
ments of the sixteenth century already refer to his office and it 
appears that his position by that time, and perhaps long before, 
had been removed from dependence on the Chancery. At any 
rate it is clear that at that epoch the Dataria was the tribunal 
where favors were obtained, and the Chancery the tribunal whose 
role consisted in the actual drawing up of the documents of 

As the number of benefices accorded by the Church became 
greatly lessened and the property of the Church diminished as 
the result of the Protestant Reformation, detaching whole na 
tions from Rome, the Dataria became less and less active. Further 
more, the development of the Secretariat of Briefs, whose head 
was given the power to bestow numerous favors of a special 
nature, sapped its power from within. Toward the end of the 
nineteenth century, the greatest part of its task lay in according 
dispensations for impediments to marriage. 

The Curial reform of Pius X created the Congregation of 
Sacraments, and marriage questions passed into the domain of 
this new bureau. The duties of the Dataria were stated by the 

The Roman Offices 137 

new constitution to be "the examination of the fitness of candi 
dates for non-consistorial benefices reserved to the Holy See." 
These terms were further defined by the new Canon Code, and 
we find the actual power of the Dataria to grant favors counts for 
little outside of Italy. In theory, the Pope may appoint to all the 
benefices, but we have seen that in most parts of the world these 
matters are administered by the Consistory or the Propaganda. 
The benefices handled by the Dataria are ordinary benefices such 
as a parish or a canonry. Qualifications of candidates to these posts 
are examined by the Dataria, it prepares and delivers their title of 
nomination. Certain of the more important grants are made by bull, 
and in these cases the Dataria itself may draw up the document 
without recourse to the Chancery. In the city of Rome, moreover, 
the Dataria plays the part of a pension bureau, fixing the amount of 
charges imposed by the Pope on certain beneficiaries and paying to 
pensioned persons, from this amount, the sum due them. 

Beside the Cardinal Datary, a Sub-datary and seven assistants are 
sufficient for this work. 

The Apostolic Camera and the 
Finances of the Holy See 

The Apostolic Chamber, or Camera, is a survival of the tem 
poral power of the Popes. It formerly administered the finances of 
the Papal States, but since 1870 has had little to do save in the 
interim between the death of a Pope and the election of his suc 
cessor. The duties of the Camera are defined by the Code of 
Canon Law as follows: "To this office is confided the care and 
administration of the property and temporal rights of the Holy 
See, above all at that moment when it becomes vacant." The im 
portant words in this definition are "above all," for outside the 
period of vacancy in the Holy See, the Apostolic Chamber is 
reduced to inaction. Under the Cardinal Camerlengo (or Chamber 
lain), the officials of the Chamber are as follows: the vice cham 
berlain, the auditor general, the treasurer general, clerks and no 

The Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church (not to be con 
founded with the Camerlengo of the Sacred College who is 
elected each year) assumes the regency of the Holy See upon the 
death of a Pope. When the Sovereign Pontiff has breathed his last, 
the Camerlengo convokes the prelates of the Apostolic Chamber 


(as listed above) to the pontifical apartments, and before them 
makes the official declaration of the death of the head of the 
Church. He then draws up the mortuary document which serves 
as the civil act of decease, and which all his subordinates sign 
with him. Then, assisted by the same persons, he officially takes 
possession of the Sacred Palaces and has a number of inventories 
made. During the interval before the Conclave, the supreme power 
of the Church lies with the cardinals, but it is the Camerlengo who 
actually carries out measures ordered by them; together with the 
cardinals who are heads of the cardinalate orders, he wields the 
executive power during the vacancy of the Holy See, and, during 
this time, he wears the keys of the Vatican at his waist and carries 
in his hand the baton of commander with its golden apple. Every 
where he is preceded by a guard. 

At the first meeting of the Sacred College following the death 
of the Pope, the Camerlengo has the Fisherman's Ring and the 
lead stamp for signing bulls of the deceased Pope broken before 
the assembly by the prefect of ceremonies. He makes all practical 
arrangements for the conclave of cardinals at which the new Pope 
is to be chosen. As we have seen, this conclave must not take 
place later than eighteen days after the demise of the Pontiff, At 
the opening session of the conclave, the Camerlengo personally 
sees that the doors are locked and that no intruder is allowed. 

Elected for life, the Camerlengo is the only head of a dicas- 
teria, or bureau, with the exception of the Cardinal Major Peni 
tentiary, whose term does not expire upon the death of the Pope. 
The Cardinal Chancellor and the Cardinal Datary no longer have 
charge of their office; the last act of the Cardinal Secretary of 
State is the notification of the Pontiff's death to the diplomatic 

In normal times, however, and outside of these extraordinary 
duties resulting from the vacancy of the Holy See, the employees 
of the Apostolic Chamber enjoy purely honorary dignities. Who, 
then, actually administers the finances of the Holy See? The an 
swer is: a special Commission of Cardinals called the "Administra 
tion of the Possessions of the Holy See/ 1 and another body called 
the "Special Administration" which manages the capital assets 
turned over by the Italian government to the Vatican in 1929 at 
the time of the settlement of the Roman Question. 

The Holy See never publishes any figures concerning its 

The Roman Offices 1 39 

receipts or expenses, as the Pope is sovereign of Vatican State 
and head of the Catholic Church and is accountable to no one in 
matters of administration. However, this does not mean that the 
Holy See has no financial administration or that its finances are in 
disorder. The Vatican has a "bank" called the Opera della Reli- 
gicme which clears its transactions, and financial experts act as 
advisers to its two commissions, and are assisted by a substantial 
secretariat of laymen. 

The sums flowing into the treasury of the Pope may be classi 
fied in a general way as ordinary receipts and extraordinary 
receipts. Among the ordinary receipts should first be mentioned 
the revenues derived from Peter's Pence, the annual contribution 
made by Catholics throughout the world for the support of the 
works of the Holy See. 

These contributions are sent to Rome through the bishops, 
collections being made in the churches or by organizations formed 
for the purpose. The origin of Peter's Pence has been traced by 
historians as far back as the year 787 when it first arose in England 
(where it remained a fixed obligation down to the time of Henry 
VIII), and then spread to other northern lands. Still other coun 
tries adopted the custom and for centuries it existed in many 
parts of the world, although in earlier times in such places as 
Portugal, Poland and certain of the Italian States, the existing rec 
ords do not permit students of the subject to distinguish be 
tween Peter's Pence and the feudal tribute which was the price of 
papal protection. 

The Reformation put an end to Peter's Pence for many cen 
turies, and not until the time of Pius IX was it revived first in 
France, then Austria and Germany and later in Ireland. After the 
occupation of Rome in 1870 and the rejection by the Holy See of 
the annual indemnity offered by Italy, Peter's Pence became the 
principal support of the Pope. At the end of the nineteenth cen 
tury, France was the principal contributor; now it is the United 
States, or rather the American Catholics, and Peter's Pence is still 
one of the largest sources of contributions to the papal treasury. 
Next among its ordinary receipts should be counted the rev 
enues derived from the capital restored to the Vatican by the 
government of Italy in 1929 in settlement of the claims presented 
by the Holy See for the loss of revenues formerly derived from 
its property and domains confiscated in 1870. (We shall return to 


this "capital" after a mention of the rest of the revenues.) Among 
other receipts that may be classified as ordinary are the revenues 
derived from charges of all kinds made by the different organiza 
tions of the Vatican for dispensations, the collation of benefices, 
for the examination, judgment and forwarding of decisions ren 
dered in cases tried by the papal courts, and income from the 
post office, museums and other institutions of Vatican City. These 
ordinary receipts, though not negligible, do not constitute a 
substantial amount. 

It is also true that the Vatican Palaces still contain art treasures 
of inestimable value; but this wealth is not only unproductive but 
often occasions active expense, because its maintenance and need 
of restoration require continuous outlays that are not covered by 
the entrance tickets and other fees charged by the Vatican mu 
seums and similar institutions. 

The extraordinary receipts of the Vatican by their very defini 
tion are irregular and difficult to evaluate; they are such things as 
legacies, gifts, special contributions, etc. 1 Finally the three domains 
of Assisi, Loretto and Padua, constitute, in the form of real estate 
holdings, an important support to the budget of the Holy See. 

Let us return to one of the ordinary receipts: the sum paid by 
the Italian government to the Holy See at the time of the Lateran 
settlement. For this it is necessary to go back to the last days of 
the Papal States when the property and domains of the Holy See 
were confiscated by Italy. Between 1860 and 1929 the Holy See 
lived in a condition that can be described as a state of poverty 
carried with decency, and sometimes it was in actual need. Al 
ready in 1860 its normal revenues were sharply reduced by the 
loss of the richest provinces of the Papal States, and in 1870, 
when Rome fell, these revenues ceased to exist. From this time 
until the time of the Lateran settlement, the Holy See lived, as we 
have seen, from the offerings that arrived from all parts of the 
world in the form of Peter's Pence. 

In 1871 the Italian Parliament approved the Law of Guarantees 
which included the decision of the State to pay to the Holy See 

1 Among these resources we may mention a percentage from the offerings 
collected in the two French shrines of Lourdes and Lisieux. This return from 
Lisieux served, among others, to reconstruct the Roman Russicum or Russian 
Seminary of the Holy See; on the other hand, after World War II the 
Holy See contributed substantial sums toward the reconstruction of the shrine 
at Lisieux, partially destroyed at the time of the Allied invasion of France. 

The Roman Offices 141 

an annual revenue of 3% million lire. This arrangement, how 
ever, was not agreed to by the Popes, and the money was never 
accepted. The matter remained in abeyance until the conclusion 
of the Lateran accord when an indemnity of one billion seven 
hundred fifty million lire was agreed upon. It should, however, 
be noted that in view of the continuous depreciation of the lira 
between 1870 and 1929 this sum was, as the Holy See declared, 
"in its real value inferior to the sum which the Italian State was 
willing to pay if the Holy See had accepted the payment of the 
obligation acknowledged by the Parliament in the Law of 1871." 
Actually of the sum turned over to the Holy See by the Italian 
government in 1929, seven hundred fifty million was paid in cash 
and the balance one billion lire in Consolidated Italian State 
Bonds, bearing five per cent interest. The real value of these 
bonds in 1929 was eight hundred million lire. 

The Special Administration (Ammistrazione Speciale} ap 
pointed by Pius XI to administer these funds was, of course, 
fully aware of the constant depreciation of the lira and for this 
reason the major part of the sums received have been invested. 
This is the reason that the administration of the Holy See is to 
be found among the stockholders of Italian and foreign industries 
and corporations, a fact that has been distorted by leftist and Com 
munist propaganda to such extreme statements as that the Holy 
See has "accumulated gold reserves second only to those of the 
United States," and that "the Holy See controls a substantial part 
of the Italian economy as well as industries in other countries." 
These statements are of course very easy to disprove since one 
has only to examine published statistics concerning the distribu 
tion of gold to discover the exaggeration, and the financial policy 
of the Holy See is a conservative one of distributed investment so 
that its financial interest in any given enterprise is almost always 

Concerning the present amount of the "capital" of the Holy 
See, one can only guess, since no authorized statistics are available; 
but it is reasonable to suppose that this special fund has been 
further depleted by losses due to war and inflation. Still, one can 
assume with good reason that this capital produces an annual rev 
enue sufficient to cover the ordinary expenses of the central 
administration of the Catholic Church and to make up the deficit 
in the cost of the administration of the State of Vatican City. 


The cost of the central administration of the Catholic Church 
includes the maintenance in Rome of the Congregations, Offices 
and Tribunals and of the cardinals and other prelates attached to 
them. It also means provision for the diplomatic service of the 
Holy See and contributions to its missionary work, although 
the Propaganda is mainly financed by special donations and 
collections taken up for this purpose in all parts of the world. 
The Holy See also spends enough to keep the Vatican Radio 
in efficient order, providing information and directives to Cath 
olics everywhere and giving hope to millions behind the Iron 

It cannot be said that the Holy See spends its money lavishly; 
to see how modestly the Pope lives and how low are the salaries of 
Vatican officials is sufficient to dissipate any doubts in the matter. 
The times are past when cardinals owned fabulous palaces and 
gave lavish entertainments; the great processions and ceremonies 
in the Vatican are not costly; vestments and uniforms are used 
but a few times a year and very often last for many decades and 
sometimes even centuries. 

To sum up, the Holy See is not at this time in a precarious 
financial situation as it was up until 1929, but it is not rich. The 
receipts suffice, at the cost of a very rigid economy, to cover the 
ordinary expenses. Its extraordinary expenses, including the vast 
charitable and relief works of the Pope, are covered by Peter's 
Pence contributed by the faithful, and foremost among them, by 
the Catholics of the United States. 

Secretariat of State 

It is through the Secretariat of State that the Sovereign Pontiff 
carries on his diplomatic relations with the outside world, but the 
work of this office is no longer confined to dealings with govern 
ments. Actually many ecclesiastical matters also pass through its 
hands, and under Pius XI and especially Pius XII it has become 
one of the chief organs of the papal government. Especially is 
this true since the present Pope has acted as his own Secretary of 
State since the death of Cardinal Maglione in 1944, his experience 
as a diplomat and later as Cardinal Secretary of State under Pius 
XI having furnished him with a rich background of diplomatic 
experience. This, however, is an exceptional situation, and the 

The Roman Offices 143 

role of the Cardinal Secretary remains as one of the great positions 
in the Church. 

Although the Pope always possessed intimate advisers, until 
the fifteenth century there was no need for him to have a special 
office of the Curia to negotiate or discuss diplomatic agreements. 
This necessity arose with the increasing volume of Vatican rela 
tions with governments following the Protestant Reformation 
which subtracted whole nations from his authority. Since the 
establishment of the modern State, the foreign relations of the 
Holy See have been carried on through diplomatic channels, 
necessitating the appointment of representatives to foreign coun 

In the days of the Medicis, and even before, when nepotism 
had implanted in the highest positions of Rome and even in the 
papal chair the members of powerful Italian families, the papal 
Secretary of State was the "cardinal nephew." Although not al 
ways bearing this relation to the reigning Pontiff, this functionary 
was for over a century a close relative of the Pope. In many cases, 
the preferment gave rise to dissatisfaction in the Curia and incom 
petent administration of important papal affairs. 2 

The disappearance of "cardinal nephews" did not take place 
without some inconveniences. Deprived of the support of a mem 
ber of his family whose power automatically rose and fell with 
his own, the Popes were still faced with embarrassing rivalries in 
the Sacred College. The Cardinal Secretary of State and the 
Cardinal Camerlengo were often at odds especially in the days of 
the Papal States, when the latter official was still active in the 
administration of the property of the Holy See. So great were the 
conflicts between Cardinals Pacca and Consalvi, one Camerlengo 
and the other Secretary of State under Pius VII, that Gregory 
XVI, his successor, in 1833 deprived the Camerlengo of all rights 
of political order, and stated that the Secretary of State was 
to be charged with the temporal affairs of the Church and its 

2 It is scarcely necessary to give examples of these abuses. History has not 
spared the Medicis and the Borgias, but an interesting light is thrown on 
the subject by M. Georges Goyau when he says: "Certain Popes in other ages 
enriched their nephews. Pius IV, Gregory XIII, Sixtus V made theirs work. 
They did not exploit the Church to the profit of their families, but their 
families to the service of the Church: Charles Borromeo, nephew of Pius TV, 
was an ascetic and a saint." 


relations with the outside world. Since the birth of Vatican City 
as a State, the latter official also enjoys certain prerogatives of an 
interior order lost to the office after the Piedmontese occupation 
of Rome in 1870. 

Since the reforms of Pius X the enormous work of the Secre 
tariat of State has been divided into three sections: 

1) The section -for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. The 
Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs forms 
around the Secretary or Pro-Secretary of State who convokes it, 
at the order of the Pontiff when he judges necessary, a sort of 
consulting council or commission. The personnel of the office for 
Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs is the same as that of the con 
gregation of the same name, and this bureau is, practically speak 
ing, the most important organ of the Holy See in its international 
relations. It deals with political matters placed by chiefs of mission 
before the Vatican, and conducts the negotiations, often very 
delicate in nature, leading up to concordats with various civil 
powers. It also deals with problems regarding the nominations of 
bishops in various countries of the world with which the Holy 
See has a concordat and when negotiations with governments are 

The affairs of each country are closely examined by func 
tionaries who have resided in these countries, and who know 
perfectly its history, its geography, customs, its government and 
political tendencies. The correspondence from India, for instance, 
is dealt with first by former missionaries who study and comment 
upon it. The Holy See is unique among the chanceries of the 
world in having in its service men of every nationality, who with 
out regard of rank, grade, or seniority may be placed in that bu 
reau where they will be most useful. 

2) The section -for Ordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs is charged 
with routine business such as dispatches to papal nuncios, legates 
and other agents of the Vatican throughout the world, and the 
relations with the diplomatic corps accredited to Vatican City. 
The latter are more numerous today then ever before in 1901 
they numbered nineteen; now there are forty-two. The Holy 
See, on the other hand, has forty-one diplomatic representatives 

In accordance with the practice of modern diplomacy, the 
Secretariat of State and representatives of the Pope in foreign 

The Roman Offices 145 

countries correspond when necessary in cypher. The very confi 
dential position of Substitute for Ordinary Affairs and Secretary 
of Cypher makes of the dignitary occupying this office the most 
intimate collaborator of the Cardinal Secretary of State or the 
prelate fulfilling his duties. 

This section for Ordinary Affairs also deals with individuals, 
for instance with those soliciting a papal benediction on some 
special occasion or with persons who wish to make a gift to the 
Holy See. Another of its functions is the material work of pre 
paring the dossiers and examining the qualifications of those 
recommended for papal dignities and pontifical decorations. Such 
positions as apostolic protonotory and prelate of the papal house 
hold are filled by the Secretariat of State. Others less important, 
as prelates of the chamber, chamberlains, and chaplains, are se 
lected by the Majordomo of His Holiness for the length of his 

Upon the instructions of the Pope, the following orders or 
decorations are granted for services rendered to the Church and 
the Papacy: 

The Supreme Order of Christ, one class, of Knights who wear the 
decoration of the order suspended from a special collar. 

The Order of Piux IX, granted for outstanding deeds performed 
in favor of Church and society and which may be bestowed on non- 
Catholics as well as Catholics. Its three classes are: Knights of the 
Grand Cross, Commanders and Knights; 

The Order of St. Gregory the Great, granted for military or civil 
services and with two divisions, each division subdivided as follows: 
Knights of the Grand Cross, Commanders and Knights; 

The Order of St. Sylvester, especially created to reward masters of 
the various arts, has three classes: Knights of the Grand Cross, Com 
manders and Knights; 

The Order of the Golden Militia or the Golden Spur, formerly 
part of the Order of St. Sylvester, reorganized by Pius X as a separate 
order with membership limited to one hundred; 

Among other significant ecclesiastical honors are: 

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre, consisting of Grand Cross 
Knights, Commanders and Knights. The order was ^created to encour 
age trips to the Holy Land by those who might give aid to the holy 
places. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem is the rector and perpetual ad 
ministrator of the Order. 

The Knights of Malta, the oldest order of laymen and prelates in 
the Church, stems from the great military orders, such as the Hospital- 


lers of St. John of Jerusalem and the Knights of Rhodes. Since the 
eighteenth century its Grand Master has been named by the Pope. 
Conditions for admission are: nobility of sixteen quarterings, the Catho 
lic Faith, attainment of legal age, integrity of charity, and correspond 
ing social position. Its membership is made up of Commanders and 
several classes of Knights. 

Papal medals are: 

Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, established by Leo XIII on the occasion of 
his golden jubilee in 1888 and awarded to those who had aided in mak 
ing the jubilee a success. It consisted of three classes, but in 1906 was 
reduced by Pius X to one, the Gold Cross, and is now conferred to 
those who, in a general way, deserve well of the Pope because of 
services rendered to the Church; 

The Benemerenti Medal, instituted by Gregory XVI to reward civil 
and military daring and courage; 

The Medal of the Holy Land, designed by Leo XIII, is bestowed by 
the custodian of the Holy Land on worthy pilgrims as a testimonial 
of their pilgrimage. 

Furthermore, the Papacy, through the Secretariat of State, 
grants titles of nobility like any other court prince, duke, marquis, 
Palatine count or baron. These titles may be either for life or 
they may be hereditary, according to the merits of the case. 

3) The Chancery of Apostolic Briefs. The third section of 
the Secretariat of State is charged with the actual drawing up of 
"apostolic briefs," or documents in connection with such items of 
business as the granting of honors and privileges by the Secretariat 
of State. The titles of protonotary, of prelate of the papal house 
hold, of assistant to the pontifical throne, are granted by briefs 
likewise the orders and titles of nobility. The bureau is presided 
over by the Chancellor of Briefs and has a personnel of vmnutanti 
for the preparation of the briefs, an accountant-bookkeeper, pen 
men and archivists. 

Secretariats of Briefs to Princes 
and of Latin Letters 

These bureaus came into being with the custom of the Sov 
ereign Pontiffs to send letters or briefs to princes, bishops and 
persons of consequence whom they wished to honor. The respec 
tive directors of these two offices have an audience with the Pope 
twice a month, and submit to him their minutes. Chosen among 
the best Latinists of the Curia, they write the briefs on parchment 

The Roman Offices 1 47 

and the letters on ordinary paper. The former are signed by the 
Pope, and bear the stamp of the Fisherman's Ring, the latter re 
ceive the signature of the secretary. The sealed envelopes are 
then handed to the Secretariat of State, by which they are sent by 
nuncios or special messengers to the persons for whom they are 
intended. Sometimes the Pope writes these letters with his own 
hand. Such communications are very rare and are considered a 
great honor to the recipient. The language of all encyclical letters 
which deal with subjects of universal importance is prepared 
by the Secretariat of Latin Letters, even when this bureau has 
nothing to do with the thought therein expressed. 

With this, we end the outline description of the bureaus of the 
Curia, the main working instruments of the Catholic Church. 
They have been created, developed and suppressed throughout 
the ages in accordance with the needs of the times, but always 
with prudence and wisdom. Such is the force of institutions and 
traditions within the papal government, that even apart from the 
fact that Catholics believe the bark of Peter to be divinely guided, 
it must be admitted that even if the conduct of papal affairs fell 
for a time into inexperienced and awkward hands, the essential 
direction of the Church would remain the same. Changes and re 
forms are slowly realized, by insensible degrees, the greatest care 
being always taken not to interrupt the continuity which assures 
the prestige and power of the institution. 

We scarcely can find an example in the history of the Church, of 
an organ created for a certain function being abolished or even radi 
cally transformed on the day that function disappeared. New instru 
ments were forged, but the old were not broken; more often, care was 
taken to preserve to these their name, their form and even their place 
in the immense organization they were no longer capable of serving. 
Nevertheless, and most often, they again found their place in the 
natural course of events or because of unforeseen circumstances, always 
useful in some manner and always regulated in the most minute detail 3 

8 Maurice Pernot, Le Saint Siege, FEglise Catbolique et la Politique 
Mondiale, Paris, 1929, p. 43. 


WE HAVE SEEN that there are in papal Rome several 
distinct administrations. The Curia, comprising the Sacred Con 
gregations, Offices and Tribunals, is charged with the general 
government of the Church. In addition, Vatican City has its ad 
ministration, its police, its postal service, in short all those things 
necessary for the government of a small temporal State. The 
Vatican with its palaces, library and museums, is administered by 
staffs and officers who make up the household of the Roman Pon 
tiff and are known as the Palatine Administration. Then there is, 
in addition, the religious administration of the diocese of Rome of 
which the Pope is the bishop, but governed by the Cardinal Vicar, 
assisted by two priests who are pastor and assistant pastor of the 
Vatican "parish" a parish very much like other parishes in the 
Catholic world. 

Another distinct entity is the chapter of St. Peter's Basilica, 
self-ruling and separate from the Vatican. A body of considerable 
size, its archpriest has under him twenty-eight canons in cappa 
and ermine mantles, three incumbent clergy, twenty-three clerics, 
fifteen members of the Giulia Chapel and nine friars who form the 
College of the Penitentiary. Besides St. Peter's proper, this chap 
ter has six parishes and ten other churches in Rome subject to 
its authority. 

Aside from the administrations named above, are the Pontifical 
and Cardinals' Commissions. They are not mentioned in the Code 
of Canon Law and some, though not all, are a part of the Roman 
Curia. Certain of them occupy places of great importance in the 

The Papal Commissions 149 

general government of the Church others have to do with the 
affairs of Rome and Italy. 

The following commissions are in existence at this time: Pon 
tifical Commission for Biblical Studies; Pontifical Commission 
for the Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law; Pontifical 
Commission for the Codification of Oriental Canon Law; Abbacy 
of St. Jerome for the Revision and Amendment of the Vulgate; 
Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences; Pontifical Com 
mittee of Sacred Archeology; Central Pontifical Commission for 
Sacred Art in Italy; Pontifical Commission for Motion Pictures, 
Radio and Television; Commission of Cardinals for the Sanctuary 
of Pompei; Pontifical Work for the Preservation of the Faith and 
Construction of New Churches in Rome; Permanent Commission 
for the Care of Historical and Artistic Monuments of the Holy 
See; Commission of Heraldry for the Pontifical Court; Pontifical 
Comission for the Ecclesiastical Archives of Italy; Pontifical Relief 
Organization in Italy. 

The Pontifical Commission for Biblical Studies, instituted by 
Pope Leo XIII in October 1902, and having its headquarters at 
the Palace of the Vatican, is composed of cardinals named by the 
Pope and of consultors who are eminent authorities in Biblical 
science. Its duties are: a) to facilitate the study of philology and 
allied sciences and knowledge of the primitive manuscripts; b) to 
seek diligently the Catholic sense of Holy Scripture as the Church 
has determined it and to keep these studies free from error. In 
1904, Pius X conferred upon this commission the power to grant 
higher academic degrees (licentiates and doctorates) in Biblical 
studies; his successor, Pius XI, in 1924 gave these degrees the same 
status as those conferred by the Pontifical Athenaeum; while 
Pius XII in 1942 permitted the division of the studies required 
for the licentiate, so that the bachelor's degree in Biblical studies 
might also be conferred. 

The Pontifical CoTwnission for the Interpretation of the Code 
of Canon Law was instituted on September 1 6, 1917, a few months 
following the promulgation of the new Code by Benedict XV. 
This memorable decree marked the termination of fourteen years 
of the most painstaking labor on the part of a large number of 
scholars and specialists in canon law. The Commission for the 
Codification of Canon Law had been appointed by Pius X in 1903, 
and was dissolved only after a code had been drawn up which 


would supersede all existing collections of papal laws, a unique 
event in the history of the Holy See, for until that time no Pope 
had ever published at one time a body of legislation which would 
cover the whole life of the Church. This code thenceforth took 
the place of the various official compilations published with the 
special approval of former Popes, of the volumes of decrees and 
declarations published by various organs of the Curia over a 
period of many years, and of the many existing private collec 
tions of papal laws. 

The benefit of such a new code w r as considered of inestimable 
value, not that it contained startling changes in canon law, but 
rather that it gathered together in one text, in 2,414 canons, the 
existing laws of the Church, eliminating many regulations that 
had dropped out of use, or which had been revoked or suspended 
in the course of the centuries. But lest any think that the code 
meant that the legislation of the Church had come or would ever 
come to an end, a new Commission for the Interpretation of the 
Code was appointed immediately on the publication of the new 
code. Since the activities of the Church are ever changing and 
developing with the progress of civilization, new decisions, new 
amendments, declarations regarding the meaning of laws, excep 
tions and particular regulations to cover special circumstances in 
certain countries and dioceses, are constantly needed. Bene 
dict XV, in his decree creating the commission to handle these 
matters, decided that any and all new laws must be examined by 
it, as well as future circumstances which might make necessary 
the repeal of certain canons of the new code. Any interpretative 
decisions issued by the Holy Father himself or by any of the 
other Sacred Congregations were to be turned over to it; new 
laws which might be needed were also to be formulated by this 
committee into canons and inserted in the code at their proper 
places. Thus the code might be considered at all times as the one, 
authoritative and complete lawbook of the Latin Church. 

The Commission for the Codification of Oriental Cmon Law: 
It is stated in the first canon of the Code of Canon Law promul 
gated in 1917, that its laws are obligatory only for Catholics of the 
Latin Rite, except in those matters which by their very nature 
affect also the Oriental Church. There is nothing new about this 
ruling; it has obtained for many centuries because of the great 

The Papal Commissions 1 5 z 

differences in manners and customs, we might also say of the very 
nature of the Oriental peoples and those of European stock. Then, 
too, the Holy See has always recognized the right of existence of 
the rites and forms of liturgy used in the Orient, so venerable by 
their origin and practiced by many of the Fathers of the Church. 
She makes no efforts for their latinization, but constant watch is 
kept from Rome that nothing is introduced into them that might 
be contrary to Catholic faith or dangerous for the health of souls, 
for in principles of faith and morals, all Catholics in union with 
the See of Peter must recognize the infallible teaching of the 
Supreme Pastor. 

The active solicitude of the Popes for their flock of the 
Eastern Church, resulted, as we saw in an earlier chapter, in the 
creation in 1917 of a special Congregation for the Oriental Church 
which had formerly been under the rule of the Propaganda. To 
this congregation, of which the Sovereign Pontiff is himself the 
prefect, are reserved all affairs of any kind referring to persons, 
discipline and rites of the Oriental Churches, even those of a 
mixed nature, that is, affecting partly a Catholic of the Oriental 
and partly of the Latin rite, as in cases of marriage between per 
sons of the two rites. The Congregation for the Oriental Church 
has for the Churches of the Oriental rites all powers of the other 
congregations combined, save that of the Holy Office. The pres 
ent Commission for the Codification of Oriental Canon Law, 
created by Pope Pius XI in 1935, works in harmony with the 
above-mentioned congregation, much of its personnel being the 
same, with special consultors for each of the Eastern rites. 1 To 
these were added the regular consultors of the Sacred Congrega 
tion for the Oriental Church, and a still further group who have 
been appointed for the research and examination from the histor 
ical point of view of the sources of Oriental law and the traditions 
and discipline of the various rites. 

After a longer period than was taken to complete the Latin 
Code, because of the many present difficulties of the Eastern 
Church and the intricacies of the subject, the Code of Canon Law 
of the Eastern Church is now completed and will come into effect 
in 1958. It is much shorter than that of the Western Church, con 
taining only 558 canons. Three sections of it were published some 
1 See Ch. VII, "The Sacred Congregations"; also "The Eastern Churches." 


time ago concerning religious, matrimony, and ecclesiastical tri 
bunals. Five principal titles are now added, and three more will 
follow at a later date. 

Abbacy of St. Jerome -for the Revision of the Vulgate: The 
Church considers it as an essential part of her doctrinal mission 
to define and interpret the Bible, both Old and New Testament, 
as well as the apostolic traditions in those things concerning faith 
and morals. Already in the sixteenth century, the Council of 
Trent called for a complete revision of the Vulgate, and though 
progress was made on this work by scholars working independ 
ently under the direction of the Holy See, it was not until 1907 
that a pontifical commission for the purpose was created by Pope 
Pius X. The work was confided to the Benedictine order under 
the presidency of a cardinal of the Curia, and in July, 1914, Bene 
dict gave the commission fixed rules and regulations for the pro 
cedure of the work. In 1933 Pius XI, by his constitution biter 
praecipuas, created the Abbacy of St. Jerome to take the place 
of the Commission for the Revision of the Vulgate; this abbacy is 
immediately subject to the Holy See although a part of the general 
confederation of the Benedictine order. 

In 1926 the revision of the Book of Genesis was completed 
and Dom Quentin was able to offer to Pius XI the first volume of 
the revised Vulgate, since regarded by Biblical students and critics 
as of unparalleled excellence. Since then, because of financial and 
wartime difficulties, only nine further volumes of this critical edi 
tion have been published, the last being that containing the Psalms. 

The Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences was insti 
tuted by Pope Pius XII in continuation of the Commission of 
Cardinals for Historical Studies, created by Leo XIII in 1883. It 
represents the Holy See in the International Congress of Histor 
ical Sciences and collaborates with the historians of all nations, 
thousands of whom have had access during the past seventy-five 
years to the treasures of the Vatican Library and Archives. 

The Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology was created 
in 1852, long before the Papacy lost its temporal power in Italy. 
Even when sequestered in the Vatican, Pius XI continued to 
promote the exploration of subterranean Rome one of the great 
est archeologists of all time being then in charge of the work, the 
celebrated John Baptist de Rossi, whose methods of study and 

The Papal Commissions 1 5 3 

research have been followed by his successors until the present 

When in 1922, the commission celebrated its seventieth anni 
versary, a report was presented on the work of the last five years 
showing archeological finds of great value and much progress in 
explorations, but also underlining the tremendous expense to 
which the commission was put by the continuation of its labors in 
subterranean Rome and the periodical publications published by 
it with such scrupulous regularity. It was on this occasion that 
the Holy Father called for the interest of intellectuals in the 
Christian world in the work and made a large personal donation to 
aid the commission in its pecuniary difficulties. Not content with 
this display of interest, the Pontiff established in 1925 the Pon 
tifical Institute of Christian Archaeology, in its handsome palace 
facing the Basilica of St. Mary Major. The work of the commis 
sion is also coordinated with the Roman Academy of Archaeol 
ogy, and interests itself in the activities of the Society of Con 
ferences on Christian Archaeology and the Collegio Cultorum 
Martyrum. The Lateran treaties extended the authority of this 
commission to catacombs throughout all of Italy, and it was earlier 
empowered to watch over and protect the Hebrew catacombs in 
the province of Rome. 

Attached to the Vicariate or religious administration of Rome 
is the Central Pontifical Commission for Sacred Art in Italy, in 
stituted by Pius XI in 1924 as a continuation of the commission 
charged by Pius X in 1912 with drawing up a list of the artistic 
treasures of the dioceses and churches of Italy, and consulting 
with the bishops of the respective dioceses as to the measures 
necessary for their preservation. Especially has this work been 
important since World War II by reason of the damages effected 
by bombings of many historic buildings. This commission has 
had much to do with the installation of the Museum Petrianum 
and has worked in conjunction with the Permanent Commission 
-for the Safeguard of the Historic cmd Artistic Monuments of the 
Holy See, created in 1923 with the purpose of "obtaining more 
uniformity and continuity in the work of conservation and re 
sponsibility." The latter body is a sort of ministry of Beaux Arts, 
organized for the benefit of Vatican City and its buildings, pres 
ent and future. 


The Pontifical Cowtmission for Motion Pictures, Radio and 
Television was created by Pius XII in 1948 for the purpose of 
passing upon those motion pictures which were made to illustrate 
Christian doctrine and the teachings of the Catholic Church. All 
such motion pictures are subjected to the approval of the Holy 
See, and in 1954 its functions were extended to radio and televi 
sion. This commission is permanent and international and its ju 
risdiction extends to all countries. 

The Commission of Cardinals for the Sanctuary of Pompei, 
instituted by Pope Leo XIII and confirmed by Pius XI in 1926, 
has in its charge the pontifical Sanctuary of Our Lady of Pompei. 
Its constitution, determined by a Consistorial decree in 1942, 
states its function as the spiritual direction of the shrine as well as 
its administration in temporal matters. 

The Pontifical Commission for the Preservation of the Faith 
in Rome and the Construction of New Churches, instituted by 
Pope Leo XIII in 1902 and reorganized and enlarged by Pius XI 
in 1930, is an institution of local interest divided into two sections 
as its name indicates. Both have offices in Rome, in the Palace of 
the Vicariate, Via della Pigna, and are presided over by a cardinal 
who has bi-monthly audiences with the Holy Father in his capac 
ity as bishop of the diocese of Rome. 

The Co?mmssion of Heraldry for the Pontifical Court was in 
stituted by Benedict XV in 1915 to examine, control and keep up 
to date the lists of the members of the papal court, in order that 
due precedence might be observed in all pontifical functions. The 
Master of the Apostolic Camera heads this group and the papal 
masters of ceremonies are naturally members. 

The Permanent Com?mssion for the Ecclesiastical Archives of 
Italy was instituted in 1955 for assisting and collaborating with 
bishops of that country in the preservation and administration 
of their archives and in certain cases accepting the duty of tak 
ing over their care and providing for their upkeep. 

Since 1953 a commission of cardinals has been entrusted with 
the management and supervision of the Pontifical Relief Organiza 
tion in Italy , w r hich carries on charitable and social services in ac 
cordance with the directives of the Holy See. 

Canon 245 of the Code of Canon Law provides that "if any 
controversy arises concerning competency between the Sacred 

The Papal Commissions 1 5 5 

Congregations, Tribunals and Offices of the Roman Curia, a com 
mittee of cardinals, which the Roman Pontiff shall designate, will 
decide the questions." This Special Commission of Cardinals is ap 
pointed to deal with each question that arises in conformity with 
the instruction of the Pontiff. There are also prelatial commissions 
to judge controversies and differences which may arise in the 
Palatine administration. 

Vatican Publications 

Perhaps a few words should be added concerning publications. 
The only official publication of the Holy See is the A eta Aposto- 
licae Sedis in which all official acts and laws in whatever form are 
promulgated. The pontifical yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio is 
published yearly by the Vatican Printing Press (Tipografia Poli- 
glotta Vaticana) and includes well over 1,900 pages of information 
on the life and activities of the reigning Pope, the names and bi 
ographies of cardinals, the names of all bishops of the world, the 
names of titular sees, the vicariates, apostolic prefectures, etc., data 
on the religious orders, the Roman Curia, the papal court, etc. The 
publishing branch of the Vatican Printing Press also issues spe 
cial printings of papal speeches, handbooks, missals, etc., in thirty 
languages, many of them destined for use in mission countries. 

The Osservatore Romano, a daily paper, is published on Vati 
can territory, but is not an official organ of the Catholic Church; 
rather it is semi-official, and although under the auspices of the 
Holy See, it is not censored by any organ of the Vatican. This 
does not affect its importance because it adheres strictly to the 
policy of the Holy See and is financed by it. Nevertheless this dis 
tinction should be made, because, as noted above, the only official 
publication of the Holy See is the Acta. 

The Vatican Press Office functions under the supervision of 
the Osservatore Romano. Founded in 1939, it is intended to assist 
all journalists in their news coverage of the Vatican and supplies 
them with the necessary credential cards and passes to gain ac 
cess to papal offices and functions. It also assists them by gather 
ing Vatican news and issuing it in a mimeographed bulletin, and 
by furnishing them with translations into several languages of the 
more important papal pronouncements. 


THE RAPED and continuous growth of the Vatican's dip 
lomatic activities since World War I has been one of the most 
striking of the facts that have directed public attention to the 
presence of the Church in the -world. The evolution of events 
has made this development highly necessary, for it would seem 
that never before has the Holy See been faced with such problems 
and sweeping changes in carrying out its mission. It must deal 
with temporal happenings sub specie aetemitatis and thus its di 
plomacy has not the same ends as those of the usual ministry of 
foreign affairs and its viewpoint is different. It must consider the 
trends of a century, or even an era, and is less interested in the rise 
and fall of governments than whether political parties or persons 
present usefulness or danger to the Church's work. The diplomacy 
of the Holy See is conducted without passion or heat but neverthe 
less with dispatch and with the aid of every technique and facility 
of communication available in modern times. 

Moreover, papal diplomacy has a long history and is often con 
sidered the most experienced in the world. For centuries Rome 
has sent out her emissaries to courts and governments. It was 
St. Leo the Great (440-461) who first felt the necessity of main 
taining a representative at the court of the Byzantine Emperor and 
sent to Constantinople a so-called apocrisarius (from the Greek 
word meaning an "answerer"). When the correspondence of 
Gregory the Great (590-604) with foreign courts became so large 
that he could not handle it alone, he created an "Office of Cor 
respondence,'* the prototype of the present Papal Secretariat of 

The Church's Diplomacy 1 5 7 

State. Pope Nicholas II (1277-1280) dispatched an envoy to Mon 
golia; Pope Nicholas IV (1282-1292) sent one to China. The office 
of permanent diplomatic representative, however, was not estab 
lished until the reign of Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope (1493- 
1503). Ever since, papal representatives have exercised influence 
in w y orld affairs, and we have seen Popes of modern times Leo 
XIII, Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII personally active in the 
Church's diplomatic service in various countries before their ele 
vation to the Papacy. 

Although widely exercised from the earliest age of the Church, 
the Pope's right to send representatives to every part of the world 
has at times been denied by the powers of the secular State, but 
it has always been vigorously upheld by the Sovereign Pontiffs. 
When his right was questioned in Germany in 1784, Pius VI 
wrote: "By virtue of his Apostolic prerogative, while providing 
for the care of all the lambs and the sheep confided to him, the 
Roman Pontiff discharges his Apostolic duty also by delegating 
ecclesiastics for a time or permanently as may seem best, to go to 
distant places where he cannot go and take his place and exercise 
such jurisdiction as he himself, if present, would exercise." 

The diplomatic status of the apostolic nuncio was defined in 
the diplomatic note of Cardinal Consalvi to the Spanish govern 
ment (January 9, 1802) and also in Cardinal Jacobini's letter of 
April 15, 1885 to the same government. The Vatican Council 
(session IV, cap. Ill) expressly stated that the Pope has the right 
to such representatives, and the constitution Apostolicae Sedis 
contains an excommunication reserved speciali modo to the Pope 
against those who harm, expel, or unlawfully detain papal dele 
gates or nuncios. 

The Papal Diplomatic Corps 

From Rome there is today extended throughout the world a 
network of papal envoys: legates, nuncios and intermincios, 
apostolic delegates and charge d'affaires. Papal legates are almost 
always cardinals or bishops destined for the cardinalate honors, 
and are vested with extensive powers. There are ordinary legates 
or legati missi (those sent on a special mission, as to preside at 
some important ceremony abroad, or appointed to meet an em 
peror or sovereign visiting Rome); legati nati (born legates) 
whose powers are attached to an archiepiscopal see (nowadays 


these are hardly more than honorary titles); and legates a latere 
who exercise by deputation all the privileges which the Pope or 
dinarily reserves to himself, and are sent on missions of the greatest 
importance, for example, the negotiation of a concordat. 

Nuncios and internuncios deal with civil governments and 
possess a definite and firmly established rating among the diplo 
matic corps in those countries in w^hich they are accredited; in 
deed, according to the act of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, 
which is still generally followed in Europe, the papal nuncios 
and internuncios are regarded as the heads, or deans, in matters 
of ceremonial precedence and dignity, of the diplomatic body in 
the respective capitals where they are placed. Their ecclesiastical 
faculties are usually conveyed to them by a papal brief and they 
are given jurisdiction according to the needs of the country to 
which they are sent. They also carry credential letters to the ruler 
of that country, and special instructions in writing. Nuncios, as a 
rule, are titular archbishops. 

In the order of pontifical diplomacy, internuncios follow the 
nuncios. They are also often titular archbishops, and have a dip 
lomatic status. They have the same faculties as nuncios, and carry 
similar credentials and instructions. Papal nuncios and internuncios 
are assisted by a prelate who is auditor or sometimes councilor 
of the nunciature, and a secretary. In the absence of a nuncio 
or apostolic delegate, his place is usually taken by the auditor, 
with the title of charge d'affaires. 

The Holy See has nuncios and internuncios accredited to the 
governments of the following countries: 

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China (Na 
tionalist), Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, 
Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, 
India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxem 
bourg, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, 
Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Uruguay, Vene 
zuela. The nunciatures in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and 
Syria were established after World War IL 

In countries that have no established diplomatic relations with 
the Holy See, the representatives of the Pope, or apostolic dele 
gates, have the duty of watching over the condition of the Church 
in the territory assigned to them, and of keeping the Sovereign 

The Church's Diplomacy 1 59 

Pontiff informed on the subject. The Holy See has such a rep 
resentative in the following countries: 

Australia (New Zealand, Oceania), Belgian Congo, British East and 
West Africa, Canada, French Africa or Dakar, Great Britain, Indo 
china, Iraq, Jerusalem (Palestine, Jordan, Cyprus), Korea, Malaya, 
Mexico, Union of South Africa, Turkey, United States of America. 
There is a special envoy in Ethiopia. 

The apostolic delegate is a delegate of the Pope to the episco 
pate of a country. He is not a diplomatic envoy of the Holy See 
to the government of that country and does not enjoy diplomatic 
privileges, although certain diplomatic courtesies are often ex 
tended to him. The presence of an apostolic delegate in a capital 
does not mean, however, that the country in question does not 
have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Great Britain has es 
tablished relations with the Holy See and maintains at the Vatican a 
diplomatic representative with the rank of envoy extraordinary 
and minister plenipotentiary. But the Holy See does not send a 
nuncio (i.e. diplomatic representative) to London, but an apostolic 
delegate, in order to avoid any friction or embarrassing situation 
of protocol from arising at the Court of St. James. 1 Apostolic 
delegates are sent by the Congregation of the Propaganda to mis 
sionary countries and by the Pontifical Secretariat of State to coun 
tries, like the United States, which have no representative at the 

The Apostolic Delegation to the United States was established 
by Leo XIII, January 24, 1893, and in his encyclical addressed to 
the bishops and archbishops of the United States on January 6, 
1895, the same Pope declared: "When the Council of Baltimore 
had concluded its labors, the duty still remained of putting, so to 
speak, a proper and becoming crown upon the work. This we 
perceived could scarcely be done in a more fitting manner than 
through the due establishment by the Apostolic See of an Ameri 
can Delegation. Accordingly, as you are well aware, we have done 
this. By this action, as we have elsewhere intimated, we wished 
first of all, to certify that in our judgment and affection America 
occupies the same place and rights as other states, however pow 
erful and imperial." 

1 It may be noted that on the British Foreign Office list, the incumbent 
of this position is classified among foreign diplomatic and consular officers in 
Great Britain. 


From the beginning the Apostolic Delegation to the United 
States has been granted the fullest powers. It is even able to decide 
appeals by definitive sentence (that is, without appeal to the 
Curia), although this does not mean that appeals may not be made 
from a sentence of a diocesan or metropolitan curia directly to 
Rome. Moreover, this power was expressly confirmed and re 
newed in 1908, when the United States passed from the regime 
of the Propaganda under the common law of the Church. All 
apostolic delegates to the United States have been elevated to the 
cardinalate immediately following their occupancy of the office. 

The first apostolic delegate was named in 1893 in the person 
of Francesco Cardinal Satolli, and Archbishop Amleto Giovanni 
Cicognani (appointed in 1933) is the sixth apostolic delegate to 
Washington. The United States (with the exception of Alaska) is 
under the jurisdiction of the Congregation of the Consistory. In 
1945 the vicariate apostolic of Guam was transferred from de 
pendence upon the apostolic delegation of the Philippines to that 
of the United States, and this also has occurred in the case of the 

Another class of papal emissary is the so-called apostolic visi 
tor, who may be a bishop, prelate, or simply the member of a 
religious community. His mission is purely ecclesiastical, and he 
is usually sent to examine the status of a diocese, religious com 
munity or seminary. 

We have seen in the chapter on Cardinals that a Roman prelate 
or private chamberlain is sent to bear the biretta to a new cardinal 
not resident in Rome. He is called an apostolic ablegate and is ac 
companied by a member of the Noble Guard, who carries the 
zucchetto, and by a private secretary. The biretta is not conferred 
by the ablegate, however, but in his presence by the head of the 
State, otherwise by the highest ecclesiastical dignitary in the 

In late years the Vatican has greatly multiplied its diplomatic 
personnel of every rank, and has entrusted it with the most delicate 
missions in a world torn by social revolution and by international 
dissensions. Like other powers, it has called to its aid students, 
specialists and thinkers men versed in the social sciences, for 
ward-looking and discreet. This vast personnel is not a heavy 
burden upon the finances of the Holy See; in comparison with the 

The Church's Diplomacy 1 6 1 

remuneration of the diplomatic agents of other Powers, their 
salaries are ridiculously small. Nevertheless they carry on actively 
and effectively the policy of the Vatican, representing it on all 
important ecclesiastical occasions and conducting negotiations 
for agreements between the Holy See and civil powers. 


Leo XIII stated the policy of the Church in the matter of 
concordats, when he said in his encyclical Immortale Dei: 

God has divided the government of the human race between two 
powers, the ecclesiastical power and the civil power; the first relates to 
divine things, the second to human things. Each one of them is sover 
eign in its sphere. Nevertheless, as their authority is exercised over 
the same subjects, it may happen that the same thing, although under 
a different aspect, may belong to the jurisdiction of both powers. And 
sometimes the circumstances are such that, to assure harmony and 
guarantee peace, the chiefs of State and the Sovereign Pontiffs come to 
an agreement in a treaty; in these cases the Church gives striking proofs 
of her maternal charity, in pushing as far as possible her indulgence 
and her compliance. 

In this matter it is interesting to note the continuity of modern 
papal policy. Benedict XV, in one of his last allocutions (Novem 
ber 21, 1921) stressed the importance of concordats, especially 
since there had come into being so many new States and the 
forms of government of certain nations had been radically 
changed. Although this Pope was hopeful that the States united in 
the League of Nations would safeguard the order of human society, 
his successor, Pius XI, shared in the growing disillusionment with 
that institution and the successive failure of the many interna 
tional conferences that had taken place. He therefore concentrated 
on the more limited and concrete task of improving the Vatican's 
relations with other countries by the conclusion of as many con 
cordats as possible. First as nuncio to Germany and then as 
Cardinal Secretary of State, the next Pope, Pius XII, took part in 
the laborious negotiations for these agreements, and, through a 
policy of wise compromise without the surrender of any princi 
ple, often succeeded in a task of real peacemaking. If at times 
these concordats have been violated, there is no case on record of 
the Vatican abrogating them even if it has made protests on vari- 


OTIS occasions of the disregard of their provisions by the other 
contracting party. 

Concordats may be made with any State regardless of the 
religion of the majority of its population or of its government, 
and a concordat does not imply approval of a government with 
which the accord is signed. Often, in fact, it is made for opposite 
reasons: to forestall persecution of the Church in a given country 
and to afford the maximum protection to Catholics within its 
territory. Concordats usually guarantee the freedom of worship 
and protection of the Church's institutions and property, freedom 
of education and freedom to teach the Faith. 

Especially does the Church remain firm upon two conditions 
essential for it: it insists on freely appointing its own bishops, al 
though it admits a droit de regard by the civil government. Even 
in cases where the Vatican may confer with a government before 
acting, it is made clear that this is done in the interest of co 
operation and harmony and that the Holy See does not thereby 
relinquish its rights in the matter. The decision is prepared and 
taken by Rome alone, and although the Vatican may submit three 
names to the civil authorities to discover whether there are any 
objections to the candidates on political grounds, the Vatican 
makes its choice freely, even for sufficient reasons in the case of 
a prelate to whom objections may have been formulated. The 
second stipulation contained in almost all diplomatic instructions 
is the recognition by civil powers of Catholic Action, that is, 
the apostolate of the laity organized under the direction of the 

Certain concordats deal with the formation or division of dio 
ceses, and in these matters the Church is willing to consider the 
welfare of the State, and gives the government a consultative 
voice. In Italy, for example, Pius XI was willing in 1929 to grad 
ually diminish the number of small dioceses. 

The juridical status of a concordat is now generally accepted 
as being a contract between Church and State. It is sometimes 
extremely difficult to distinguish interests that are spiritual and 
interests that are temporal, and with the encroachment of the 
modern State upon so many areas of life, and the different rela 
tionships between Church and State in various parts of the world, 
the negotiations leading to these agreements are among the most 
arduous tasks of papal diplomacy. 

The Church's Diplomacy 1 6 3 

Diplomats Accredited to the Holy See 

Since the sixteenth century, the Holy See has been surrounded 
by a permanent diplomatic corps representing other world powers, 
and its right to receive legates was exercised and recognized even 
during those dark years when the papacy was deprived of its 
temporal power, despite the fact that the right of active as well 
as passive representation was identified in certain minds with the 
Popes insofar as they were the temporal heads of the Pontifical 

When on the morning of September 20, 1870, the aged and 
broken Pius IX found himself deprived of his States and at the be 
ginning of his long term of self-imprisonment in the Vatican, 
he was surrounded by the diplomatic corps of the Holy See. Dur 
ing the fifty-nine years that followed, the corps attested by its 
continual presence the position in which many world Powers held 
the despoiled Papacy, and when, in 1929, the State of Vatican 
City came into being, none showed more genuine rejoicing than 
the body of diplomats accredited to the Vatican. 

Various clauses in the treaty between the Holy See and 
Italy cover the status of envoys of foreign governments to the 
Holy See, stating that they continue to enjoy in Italy all preroga 
tives and immunities surrounding diplomatic agents in international 
law, and that they may continue to reside in Rome itself where 
they will enjoy all those courtesies due them even if the State 
which has sent them to the Holy See is not in diplomatic rela 
tions with Italy. Italy also promised to leave free all communica 
tions between the Vatican and the outside world including, in 
time of war, belligerents and the Holy See, and likewise promised 
free access of bishops from all over the world to the Apostolic 
See, a promise which, as we have seen, was fulfilled during World 
War II. 

The duties of ambassadors and ministers of foreign powers to 
the Holy See are practically the same as though they were ac 
credited to any other country. They have a dean (the oldest 
of diplomats in point of appointment), and the same grades and 
ranks as elsewhere. Their duties involve the transmission of com 
munications, negotiation of concordats and accords, representa 
tion of their country at solemn ceremonies, and all those matters 
that arise in the normal course of diplomatic procedure. It is per- 


haps of interest to know that the dean of the diplomatic corps to 
the Vatican addresses himself in the French language to the Pope 
when he speaks in the name of his colleagues, and that the Holy 
Father generally replies in the same language. French, as the lan 
guage of diplomacy, is also frequently employed in accords and 

That the nations of the world are aware of the importance of 
representation in Rome is shown by the fact that in 1956 the 
following countries maintained diplomatic missions (embassies or 
legations) to the Holy See: 

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colum 
bia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salva 
dor, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Haiti, India, Indonesia, 
Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania (appointed by the 
prewar non-Communist government), Monaco, Netherlands, Nicara 
gua, Order of Malta, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland (ap 
pointed by the prewar non-Communist government), Portugal, San 
Marino, Spain, Syria, Uruguay, Venezuela. 

Official diplomatic ties between the United States and the Vati 
can have long presented a delicate problem since in a nation until 
recently overwhelmingly Protestant there are many objections 
to what is regarded by some as the official recognition of a reli 
gious denomination by a nation whose traditions are based on 
the separation of Church and State. That this is not the position 
taken by other countries is evident from the composition of the 
official missions at the Vatican; among them is to be found a min 
ister plenipotentiary from Great Britain a nation where the 
Church of England is the established religion and missions from 
many other Protestant countries as well as from those which are 
non-Christian, as in the case of such places as Egypt, Iran and 
Pakistan. The difficulties of the American governmental position 
are recognized by the Vatican w r hich continues to exercise con 
siderable tact in its official relations with the United States and 
does not seek to force the issue. The present Pope has preferred to 
let the initiative rest with the President of the United States, al 
though he has not concealed his personal conviction of the ad 
vantages to be drawn by both parties from a formal exchange of 
diplomatic representatives. On the other hand many American 
officials are fully aware of the benefits to be drawn by the presence 
of a representative accredited to one of the best informed chancer- 

The Church* s Diplomacy 1 65 

ies of Europe, or of the mobilization of such a religious and 
moral force as the Church in the cause of peace. 

The United States was represented by a resident minister at 
the Vatican from 1848 to 1867. This representation was initiated 
at a time when the liberal attitude of the newly-elected Pope 
Pius IX had excited considerable interest and approval in the 
United States; it passed out of use in 1867, partly as the result of 
the decline of the power of the Papacy over the Papal States and 
partly as the result of strong objections raised in the American 
Congress. Although due in part to anti-Catholic feeling, the matter 
was brought to a head by a growing hostility to President Johnson 
and an attempt to embarrass his administration. The Congress at 
that time refused to appropriate further funds for a representative 
at the Vatican and the post was officially abolished on January i 
of the following year. 2 

The question of the resumption of these official relations, while 
discussed academically from time to time, did not again arise until 
the administration of President Roosevelt, early in World War II. 
Those familiar with the exchange of views between the American 
President and Pope Pius XII predicted that their mutual desire to 
limit hostilities and to bring help to the persecuted would lead to a 
closer relationship between Washington and the Vatican. It was 
therefore no surprise to many when in 1939 President Roosevelt 
made a first step in this direction by sending a "personal represent 
ative" to the Holy See. This was Mr. Myron C. Taylor, an Epis 
copalian, known for his generous humanitarian activities. 

During the war the Taylor mission did much to bring about 
an understanding between the Pope and the President, and the 
United States obtained much valuable information from the Vati 
can on the European situation. Although divergences of views ap 
peared on certain matters, such as President Roosevelt's belief 
that a shift in the Soviet's policy toward religion was pending 
and the Allied insistence on "unconditional surrender" for Ger 
many (a formula which the Pope regarded as unrealistic and un- 
Christian), an atmosphere of good will prevailed and the discus 
sions of various phases of postwar policies and relief measures 
were to bear good fruit. 

After President Roosevelt's death, Mr. Taylor's appointment 

2 Nevertheless consular offices of the Papal States (and after 1870 of the 
Holy See), functioned in the United States until 1895. 


was confirmed by Mr. Truman, but when the former resigned in 
1950, the President did not at once appoint a successor. In 1951 
the resumption of normal diplomatic relations between the Holy 
See and the United States was hotly debated in Congress and the 
press when President Truman reopened the issue by naming Gen 
eral Mark W. Clark for the post of envoy to the Vatican. The 
appointment of course required Senate confirmation and financial 
appropriation, but these were not forthcoming and the matter was 
dropped. It is to be noted that at that time the hierarchy of the 
Catholic Church in the United States neither campaigned for the 
appointment of an American envoy nor uttered an opinion in the 
matter, nor did Pope Pius make public a statement concerning 
it. UOsseruatore Romano did, however, note shortly afterward 
that the Holy See would not accept the appointment of just an 
other "personal representative" of the American President. 

International Cooperation 

The present Pope, as all his predecessors, is a warm supporter 
of international cooperation in the interest of world peace and 
human betterment. This is not a new attitude of the Papacy; 
throughout the ages its action has been exercised according to 
changing human and international conditions. From the days of 
primitive Christianity in Europe until late medieval times, the 
voice of the Popes w r as heard with respect by all Christian princes 
and peoples, and even after the Reformation they were often 
able to arbitrate between nations, to defend the weak against the 
strong, and prevent the outbreak of wars. If, particularly during 
the last two centuries, nationalists like Bismarck and Cavour, or 
the liberals and freemasons of the Third Republic and the Italian 
parliamentary regime succeeded for a time in ostracizing the 
Popes from the international scene, their efforts became ineffective 
as political issues assumed a more fundamental and ideological 
character. The Popes of modern times have not hesitated to recall 
to nations their reciprocal duties of justice and fraternity and to 
seek, by every means in their power, to prevent the outbreak of 
armed conflicts and social strife. 

As early as 1939 Pius XII expressed his hope for the establish 
ment of an international institution or institutions to safeguard 
world peace, and throughout the years of World War II and in the 
course of the reconstruction period thereafter he made many 

The Church's Diplomacy 167 

statements to encourage international movements and reunions 
and to inspire Catholics to work with others for "a new and better 
Europe, a new and better universe, based upon the filial love of 
God, faithfulness to His sacred commandments, the respect of 
human dignity, and the sacred principle of equality of rights for 
all peoples and all States, great and small, weak and strong. 7 ' He 
had already warned against nationalism not only as an error harm 
ful to the internal life and prosperity of nations, but because "it 
injures the relations between peoples and breaks the unity of 
supranational society, robs the law of nations of its foundation 
and vigor, leads to violation of other rights and impedes agreement 
and peaceful intercourse" (Encyclical Suwmi Pontificates'). 

At the time of its inception Pope Pius made clear his sympa 
thetic attitude toward the United Nations and this attitude has 
not changed, although on various occasions the Pontiff has ex 
pressed his recognition of the difficulties of reaching agreement 
and the ineffectiveness of the guarantees of security afforded by 
a world organization whose membership is divided into two ideo 
logical camps. As the Charter of the UN excludes neutralized 
States such as Switzerland and Vatican City, there has been no 
question of the Vatican joining the United Nations, and the Holy 
See has expressed no desire for such membership. On the other 
hand there appeared a new possibility of Catholic action in 
cooperation with the various social, educational and humani 
tarian agencies of a non-governmental character connected with 
the UN, and the Pope has availed himself of this opportunity. 

The Vatican has official observers at UNESCO and in the 
FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization), and cooperates with 
the UN's International Children's Fund; it is a member of the UN 
High Commission on Refugees. Through Catholic international 
organizations, which do not officially represent the Holy See but 
which follow papal directives, and through the Catholic mem 
bers of national delegations, the voice of the Church is heard at 
least in the non-political branches of the UN, insofar as they 
deal with religious and moral problems. The Pax Romana, the 
World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations, the Catholic 
Children's Bureau, the International Catholic Migration Commis 
sion, the International Catholic Press Union and the International 
Conference of Catholic Charities have, as non-governmental agen 
cies, a consultative status with the UN. The National Catholic 


Welfare Conference maintains in New York an Office for UN 
Affairs which as a representative of the World Union of Catholic 
Women is the foremost Catholic observation post at UN Head 

Catholic organizations have been able to influence such dec 
larations as that of the Economic and Social Council to the effect 
that the problem of peace is not exclusively political, a principle 
that has always been stressed by the Papacy. At the time of the 
drafting of the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN 
Assembly on December 10, 1948, there was included an appeal to 
respect natural law and the inalienable rights of the individual, 
and although mention of the name of God and divine origin of 
man, which was also urged by the Catholic groups was omitted 
from its preamble, there is much resemblance between it and the 
Pope's Christmas message of 1942. 

The Vatican has also followed with concern the debates on 
the question of the Holy Places in Palestine, and has made strong 
representations regarding its right to be heard in this matter. It 
has expressed itself in favor of a special international status for the 
equal protection of the rights of Catholic, Mohammedans and 
Jews in the city and neighborhood of Jerusalem and for the 
protection and free access to sanctuaries in other holy places. 

The Vatican has also shown a deep interest in such organiza 
tions for international cooperation as the European Federation 
and the Atlantic Union which although outside the framework 
of the UN are intended to be complementary to its activities. 
The Holy See likewise supported the American project of world 
wide aid to undeveloped countries known as "Point Four" of 
President Truman's program. The Pope has made known his in 
ternational outlook on every occasion and has frequently re 
ceived in audience and addressed international movements and 
congresses when they met in Rome. His statements to the World 
Federalists and to the World Association of Parliamentarians for 
World Government, his radio Christmas messages, his speeches to 
visiting journalists, professional groups and statesmen have all 
emphasized his approval of every effort of conciliation and under 
standing among the people of different nations. The Vatican is a 
member of the World Postal Union, the International Telecom 
munications Union and in 1952 signed the UN Convention on the 
Status of Refugees. It is significant that in August 1955 the Vati- 

The Church's Diplomacy 1 69 

can sent an official observer to the international congress which 
dealt with the peaceful employment of atomic energy in Geneva 
and the voice of the Holy See was heard in this important as 

The Holy See is at present officially represented in the Inter 
national Agency for Peaceful Use of Atomic Power; the Interna 
tional Institute for the Unification of Civil Law; the International 
Committee on Military Medicine and Pharmacy; the International 
Paleography Committee; the International Committee for the His 
tory of Art; the International Congress of Anthropological and 
Ethnological Studies; the International Committee for Historical 

Pius XII has repeatedly stressed in his statements and his 
speeches before international gatherings that the Church speaks 
not only on behalf of Catholics but for all mankind, and he has 
made even clearer than his predecessors the fact that "the Catholic 
Church has never identified herself with European or any other 
one culture; her essence forbids it. She is ready to enter into rela 
tion with all cultures. The Church recognizes all that is not op 
posed to the Creator's work, and that is in agreement with man's 
natural rights and duties." 

The greatest hostility to the role of the Church in international 
affairs comes of course from the Communist governments and 
their official Weltschwung of dialetical materialism. China, Czech 
oslovakia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania formerly maintained 
diplomatic missions to the Holy See but they have been removed 
by the "People's Governments," Russia has never sent representa 
tives to the Vatican and is at once the arch-enemy of the Church 
and one of its greatest hopes. While its government is officially 
anti-Christian, the Orthodox religion of its people is the strongest 
of any of the dissenting Churches and is the nearest to Roman 
Catholicism in doctrine, dogma and the sacraments. In addition 
there are behind the Iron Curtain not only millions of Catholics 
of the Latin Rite but sizable bodies of Catholics of the Eastern 
rites who are in communion with Rome. These things explain the 
Church's interest in the affairs of Russia and the attention with 
which the Curia and the Pope follow its every move in the inter 
national arena. 

Part Two: 

The Church Throughout 
the World 

















IT is of importance to stress the fact that the whole 
idea of hierarchy, in the view of the Catholic Church, is not that 
of a system imposed artificially from without, but is the neces 
sary expression of a fundamental law of spiritual life from 
within. At the basis of this law is freedom it is by personal ac 
ceptance alone of the Church's teaching and discipline that the 
individual gains admission into its communion. 

It is Catholic belief that the principle of hierarchy is of divine 
institution and permits the grouping, according to rank, of the 
clergy, submitted to the bishops of dioceses, who are in turn 
subject to the Pope, Bishop of Bishops and head of the Church. 
Or we may define the hierarchy as that body of the clergy be 
tween whom ecclesiastical power is divided according to distinct 
and subordinated degrees. Among these two hierarchic powers 
are distinguished, although they are interdependent: i ) the power 
of order, that is, of celebrating the divine Mysteries and of com 
municating the fullness of Christian grace through the sacra 
ments; 2) the power of jurisdiction, or the regulation of the 
legitimate use of the power of order, by designation, commission 
or mandate. 

The Church also holds that the hierarchy itself is in part of 
divine institution, in part of ecclesiastical institution. From the 
point of view of order, the bishops, priests and other ministers 
of the altar are of divine institution a teaching in the present 
Code of Canon Law (can. 108, par. 2) which recalls the article of 
faith defined by the Council of Trent: "If anyone says that there 


does not exist in the Catholic Church a hierarchy instituted by 
order of God and composed of bishops, priests and ministers, 
let him be anathema" (sess. XIII, can. 6, chap. 4). The other 
degrees of the hierarchy of order subdiaconate, functions of 
acolyte, exorcist, reader and porter are of purely ecclesiastical in 
stitution. The Church could institute them without touching any 
thing essential in sacramental discipline; they may be considered 
as subsidiary to the diaconate. The Council of Trent, in defining 
the hierarchy of divine institution, called deacons "ministers" and 
a similar statement is made in the Code of Canon Law. 

In the hierarchy of jurisdiction, only two degrees are of divine 
institution: the sovereign pontificate and the episcopate subordi 
nated to it. Other degrees of the hierarchy of jurisdiction did not 
appear until later, certain of them not until centuries after the 
Apostolic period; such are metropolitans, patriarchs, cardinals, 
archdeacons, etc. The Church, naturally, does not claim that 
every ecclesiastical office and division of jurisdiction was set forth 
by Jesus Christ; rather that the principle of these divisions be 
longed to the Divine Plan. Like earthly governments, she claims 
the right to create certain posts and divisions of rank and power 
in accordance with expediency and the varying needs of time and 

Divisions of Jurisdiction 

The territory over which each bishop exercises his ordinary 
power is known as a diocese; it is the basis of the organization 
and division of the Catholic world. It must form a complete entity 
and be self-sufficient under the government of the bishop, assisted 
by his vicar general and surrounded by his curia. Reasons of 
utility and order have brought about in the Church the grouping 
of a certain number of dioceses into provinces under the direction 
of a metropolitan who is bishop of the principal diocese of the 
group. Metropolitans have always had the title of archbishop (or 
chief of bishops), a title they share with titular archbishops, who 
govern a diocese without suffragans or who have jurisdiction over 
no territory save that of an extinct archdiocese. The powers and 
duties of a metropolitan bishop are existent and very real. He has 
active rights over the bishops of his province and over the 
province itself. He has as his duty to watch over the observance 
of faith and discipline in his territory, to summon provincial 

The Hierarchy 175 

councils or synods at regular intervals, to pass laws and render 
ecclesiastical judgments for the whole province. 

A primate formerly supervised to a certain extent several 
ecclesiastical provinces belonging to the same nation. At present, 
however, in the Latin Church this title, like that of patriarch, does 
not denote special jurisdiction, but merely the honor of preced 
ence. Such are the patriarchal titles of Venice or Lisbon. Patri 
archs precede primates, primates precede metropolitans, the met 
ropolitans precede bishops except in their own dioceses where 
the latter precede all archbishops and bishops except cardinals, 
papal legates and their own metropolitans. 

In recent years the Catholic hierarchy, and at its head in each 
country the bishops, the pastors of their flocks, have been faced 
with all the difficulties of our unstable and tormented times. In 
the Far East and in those sections of Europe that are behind the 
Iron Curtain, the members of the hierarchy have been maligned, 
persecuted, and often imprisoned. In various parts of the w r orld, 
they have had to deal with the problems caused by war and re 
construction, mass migrations, and with the new dangers for 
souls raised by Marxist penetrations and contemporary economic 
evolution. Everywhere the hierarchy has shared the fate of the 
faithful under its charge and has followed them in their difficulties 
both individual and collective. Amid all these ills, it has exercised 
its mission of spiritual guidance and maintenance of the moral 
order. Under instructions from the Papacy the bishops hold where 
possible, in addition to the plenary and provincial councils re 
quired by canon law, more frequent meetings and conferences on 
a national level, in order to discuss grave and particular problems 
in their respective countries. More and more important and joint 
statements are issued by the episcopacy of different countries on 
questions of natural law, morality and order and on politico-social 
questions that engage the human consciences under their juris 

Plenary councils are those held by the Ordinaries of several 
ecclesiastical provinces with permission of the Holy See, which 
appoints a legate to convoke and preside over the meeting. The 
following dignitaries are present with a decisive vote: besides the 
papal legate, the archbishops, residential bishops (who, if impeded, 
may be replaced by their coadjutor or auxiliary bishop), the 
apostolic administrators of dioceses, abbots or prelates 


vicars apostolic, prefects apostolic, vicars capitular. Titular bish 
ops in the territory where the council is held, must, if summoned 
by the papal legate, likewise put in an appearance. Other persons 
of the secular or regular clergy when invited to the council have 
only a consultative vote. 

At least every twenty years there must be a provincial council 
in each ecclesiastical province called by the archbishops of the 
place, or if the archiepiscopal see be vacant, by the oldest bishop. 
The place is appointed after consultation with all those who have 
a right to attend and the church of the archdiocese is usually 
selected. The provincial council is attended by all suffragan bish 
ops, abbots and prelates nullius and suifragan bishops who are 
not subject to any archbishop as well as all those mentioned 
above who have a right to attend the plenary council. The cathe 
dral chapters or diocesan consultors must be asked and must send 
two representatives who have, however, but one consultative vote. 
Major superiors of clerical exempt orders and of monastic con 
gregations who live in the province must be summoned and must 
come or give reason for their absence. The acts of both plenary 
and provincial councils are subject to revision and approval of the 
Sacred Congregation of the Council (q.v.) before publication. 

Vicars and prefects apostolic are appointed to the mission 
field where the territorial divisions are unstable and where dio 
ceses have not yet been formed. The vicar apostolic is a priest, 
ordinarily endowed with a character of episcopal order, who gov 
erns in the name of and by authority of the Pope and not in 
virtue of the ordinary power which a bishop has over his diocese. 
The head of an apostolic prefecture (usually existing in a territory 
even less developed than a vicariate) is named by the Congrega 
tion of the Propaganda and does not always have the episcopal 
character. Nevertheless, like the apostolic vicar, he receives from 
the Holy See the same powers and privileges over his missionaries 
as a bishop possesses over his clergy but it is a delegated and 
not an ordinary power. 

An administrator apostolic is a prelate who, by direct delega 
tion of the Holy See, administers a diocese or a territory equivalent 
to a diocese. His appointment is usually temporary and may be 
made while a bishop is still in possession of the see, the latter 
retaining his title but his functions being suspended, or the ad 
ministrator may be appointed for a vacant see. Sometimes his ap- 

The Hierarchy 177 

pointment is perpetual because the Holy See no longer wishes 
to consider as a diocese the territory in question. 

Abbeys and prelatures nullius are ecclesiastical jurisdictions 
independent of the ordinary hierarchy. The prelates who rule 
over them are called abbots nullius if their church is abbatial; 
prelates nullius if their church is a secular prelacy they are both 
directly subject to Rome alone. Such ecclesiastics, even if not 
consecrated bishops, have the right to consecrate churches and 
altars in their district and to many other rights and privileges 
ordinarily ascribed to bishops. In their own territory they may 
make use of the insignia of a bishop with throne and canopy 
and celebrate the sacred functions according to the Pontifical. Out 
side their district they wear the pectoral cross, the ring and purple 

The Bishops 

Catholics hold that the bishops as a body are the successors of 
the Apostolic College which, like the Papacy, was of divine institu 
tion, and they base this belief on the words of Christ: "As the 
Father hath sent me, I also send you" (John 22:21). Thus the 
mission of the bishops, like that of the Apostles, is the mission to 
teach, to govern in spiritual matters, and to sanctify souls. The 
bishop has received the power of order in all its fullness. He can 
administer the sacrament of Confirmation; he can ordain priests 
who in their turn administer the other sacraments, and he can 
consecrate other bishops. 

Within his own diocese each bishop has ordinary and com 
plete jurisdiction over the clergy and faithful, governing his 
church in the name of God, and not merely as a delegate of the 
Pope. But his jurisdiction is by law restricted to the limits of his 
diocese, and is subordinate to the authority of the Sovereign 
Pontiff; thus it is that the bishop can do nothing contrary to 
the law or teaching of the universal Church. 

It is the bishop's duty to teach and to watch over the purity of 
doctrine, especially in the schools, colleges and seminaries under 
his supervision. He is himself required by the Council of Trent 
to preach the word of God, and no one may preach in his dio 
cese without his permission. He also passes upon or approves the 
publication of books treating of religious matters, and in this 
connection may also indicate books, magazines, plays or cinemas 


or any form of teaching and indoctrination contrary to faith or 
dangerous to morals. 

The bishop also guards the morals of his flock, and maintains 
discipline among the clergy. He supervises convents and monas 
teries in his diocese, with the exception of those which are founded 
under the sole authority of the Holy See, and it is he who invites 
religious orders to establish themselves within his diocese. He 
must administer the sacrament of Confirmation, ordain priests, 
maintain seminaries, and consecrate churches, altars, holy oils and 

The bishop possesses rights which are legislative, judicial and 
coercive, making laws for his diocese, and deciding all ecclesias 
tical causes in the first instance, except those reserved to the Holy 
See; he may also apply ecclesiastical sanctions such as censures 
of suspension, interdict, and even of excommunication. On the 
other hand he may dispense from his own laws, but not from laws 
made by those who have power superior to his own, such as his 
archbishop or the Pope. Other of his rights and duties may be 
called administrative; these include the assignment of the clergy 
and the establishment of seminaries, diocesan colleges and the 
building of parish churches and hospitals, orphanages and other 
institutions. He must own or control the use of land, and watch 
over the management of the Church's temporal goods. 

The bishop's revenues are derived from such sources as col 
lections from the faithful made annually for such purposes as 
cathedral and seminary expenses; he may inherit property for the 
Church and often, at least in urban centers in North 'America, 
receives the gift of considerable sums for pious purposes. He 
must render a financial accounting to the Holy See on his quin 
quennial visits to Rome and on other occasions as required, and 
make an exact statement of his income, expenses, and the debts 
on churches and institutions of his diocese. 

A bishop is obliged to reside personally in his diocese even 
when he has a coadjutor bishop, and he may not be absent from 
his diocese for more than two or at most three months, either for 
continuous or interrupted periods in a year (the time for the visit 
to Rome, or absence to attend provincial or plenary councils is 
not included). Neither should he be absent from his cathedral 
church in Advent, Lent, or Christmas, Easter, Pentecost or Corpus 
Christi, except for grave reasons. 

The Hierarchy 179 

The bishop is also obliged to apply Holy Mass for the people 
under his charge on certain days, to make report of the state of 
his diocese every five years according to the formula issued by 
the Holy See, to make the visit ad limna (a visit to Rome to 
venerate the tombs of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul) ; to visit 
every place within his diocese at least once in five years either 
in person or, if legitimately excused, through his vicar general or 
another priest given requisite authority. 

On the occasion of his visitation^ the bishop may be ac 
companied by two of the clergy. All persons, goods, and pious 
institutions are subject to his visitation, even though exempt, 1 
within the limits of his diocese, unless special exemption is 
proved to have been granted them by the Holy See. The bishop 
is cautioned by canon law, however, not to unduly prolong his 
visitation nor to place unnecessary expense upon the places 
visited; nor is any donation allowed to be given on these occasions 
either to the bishop or to any of the clergy accompanying him. 

Among the privileges of a bishop are, in his own diocese, 
to exercise the Pontifical, which means to perform those functions 
in which, according to the laws of the liturgy, the use of the 
pontifical insignia of the crozier and miter is required. He has the 
right to precede all archbishops and bishops except his own arch 
bishop, or cardinals and papal legates; to wear the episcopal in 
signia according to liturgical laws, to grant certain indulgences 
in places of their jurisdiction, to erect in all churches of the dio 
cese the throne with the canopy. 

Nomnation and Election of Bishops 

Since the position of a bishop in the organization of the Cath 
olic Church is of such pivotal importance, she exercises the 
greatest care in the selection of candidates and insofar as possible 
guards jealously her rights in the matter. As we have seen, the 
choice of bishops is theoretically the business of the Congregation 
of the Consistory, canon 248 of the Code attributing to this 
bureau of the Roman Curia in a general way the duty of proposing 
to the Pope the candidates to be considered and to make the 
preliminary inquiries regarding these prelates. 

However, there exists in different countries a wide divergence 

x See Ch. xvn, "The Religious Orders" for exempt religious houses, 
p. 258. 


of method in the matter of the nomination of bishops. In the first 
place, mission countries submit the matter of the nomination of 
bishops, as well as that of the territorial modification of ecclesias 
tical circumscriptions, to the Congregation of the Propaganda. 
This applies not only to mission countries but to those where a 
ruined Catholic hierarchy has been reestablished in only an em 
bryonic manner such as the Scandinavian States. Secondly, the 
Churches of the Oriental rites elect their bishops without ref 
erence to the Consistory; it is the Congregation for the Oriental 
Church which deals with this matter. 

When, as the result of concordats, or of governmental inter 
vention in the nomination of a bishop, the affair is placed on the 
diplomatic plane, the examination is conducted by the Congrega 
tion for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. But any role in the 
election of bishops by civil governments is exceptional in the 
Church today. The general law T and practice consists in what is 
called "free collation" namely, the Holy See itself chooses its 
candidates by means of its normal organs for this land of busi 

The Consistory may be informed of the qualifications of 
priests suitable for the episcopacy by nuncios, by an influential 
bishop, by ecclesiastics or kymen. The communication of such 
names to the cardinal, secretary or assessor of the Congregation 
by a person well known to them and accompanied by detailed 
information, is often favorably acted upon. As a matter of fact, 
the Congregation does not bind itself to any official method of at 
taining such information, but several means are used, varying with 
conditions in the different countries. 

According to a method gaining more in favor with the Con 
sistory and introduced in the United States since 1916, into Canada 
and Newfoundland in 1919, in Scotland in 1920 and Brazil and 
Mexico in 1921, the drawing up of lists of priests suitable for the 
position of bishop is a regular duty of the bishops already in 
charge of the field. These lists should be drawn up at regular in 
tervals, so that when vacancies occur they are already at hand in 

The number of lists submitted varies with each country one 
for each ecclesiastical province in the United States, Brazil and 
Mexico; the same for Canada in principle, but because of peculiar 
circumstances there are cases where several provinces may be 

The Hierarchy 1 8 1 

united, the bishops cooperating in the preparation of a single list. 
The American bishops should first consult their irremovable pas 
tors and diocesan consultors; the bishops of Scotland consult their 
canons; elsewhere the prelates are not obliged to make any in 
quiries unless they so desire, although they may sound out certain 
ecclesiastics if they like. The rest of the procedure is practically 
the same everywhere. 

Once every two years at the beginning of Lent the bishops of 
each ecclesiastical province hold a meeting, at which the met 
ropolitan presides, to discuss the names of candidates for the 
episcopacy to be submitted to Rome. As soon as the archbishop 
has announced the date of the meeting, each bishop is free to 
make suggestions of those priests he wishes to recommend. Such 
priests do not have to be of the bishop's own diocese, but he 
should know them personally and should be well acquainted with 
their qualifications spiritual, intellectual and administrative. Ac 
cording to the Code of Canon Law, the requisites of a candidate 
for the episcopate are five: he must be born of legitimate wedlock; 
he must be at least thirty years of age; he must have been ordained 
priest for at least five years; he must be of good character, piety 
and zeal for souls, prudent and otherwise qualified to govern the 
diocese to which he is assigned; he must hold the degree of doctor 
or licentiate in theology or canon law from an institution of learn 
ing approved by the Holy See, or at least he must be well versed in 
these sciences. A candidate who is a religious must have a similar 
degree or at least have the testimony of the major superiors of his 
order regarding his learning. It is not expected that any candi 
date without these qualifications will be presented from any 

On the date fixed by the metropolitan the bishops meet 
quietly, without ceremony or publicity of any kind, "like a meet 
ing of friends," as the text runs, so that no indiscretions are risked 
in fact the secrecy of the Holy Office surrounds the whole mat 
ter from beginning to end. Strict secrecy is kept in regard to all 
that passes at the meeting, each candidate being voted upon, but 
in such a way that no one else may know how each bishop votes. 
The secretary of the meeting then draws up minutes of the results 
of the voting, one copy of which goes into the secret archives 
of the archbishopric; another, duly signed, is addressed to the 
papal nuncio or apostolic delegate in the territory concerned. 


When this is received, the apostolic delegate or nuncio selects 
three names from among the most likely candidates and makes a 
detailed investigation of each among those ecclesiastics closely as 
sociated with the work of each of these priests. The compre 
hensive questionnaire sent to these colleagues is extremely detailed, 
and they too must keep the fact of their interrogation and of their 
replies secret under penalty of excommunication. 

The results of the inquiries by the papal representative are 
embodied by him in a special dossier regarding each candidate, 
usually from thirty to forty pages long, and in his report he 
classifies the three candidates in the order of preference and in 
regard to their fitness to fill the post in a specific diocese. These 
papers he then transmits to the Consistorial Congregation in Rome. 

Once the Consistory is in possession of the names of prospec 
tive bishops, it may proceed to a further and searching inquiry 
of its own. When a decision is made, the nuncio or apostolic 
delegate is notified which of the three candidates has been ap 
proved, and he is instructed to inquire if the candidate is disposed 
to accept the appointment. The latter's bishop is also notified, but 
both are still bound by secrecy. When the candidate expresses 
his willingness to accept, Rome is so advised, and the Cardinal 
Secretary of the Consistorial Congregation submits the matter to 
the Pope for final approval. When this has been obtained, the 
delegate or nuncio is asked to notify the candidate of the date 
on which the official announcement will be made, and in the 
meantime the apostolic letter or bull of appointment is prepared. 

Unless prevented by legitimate impediment, every person 
promoted to the episcopate must be consecrated within three 
months after receiving the Apostolic letters and he must go to 
his diocese within four months. He is considered as in canonical 
possession of his diocese as soon as he exhibits, either in person or 
by procurator, the apostolic letters to the cathedral chapter, the 
secretary of the chapter or the chancellor of the diocesan curia 
being present to make official entry of the fact in the records of 
the diocese. Where there are no cathedral chapters, the diocesan 
consultors take the place of the chapter. 

The ceremony of consecrating a bishop is one of the most 
solemn and impressive known to the Church. The day chosen 
should be a Sunday or feast of an Apostle, and if the consecra 
tion takes place outside Rome, it ought to be in the cathedral 

The Hierarchy 183 

of the diocese and within the province of the bishop-elect, al 
though he may for special reasons be permitted to select another 
church or chapel for the ceremony. The consecration takes place 
at a Mass celebrated both by the consecrator (who is usually an 
archbishop of another diocese delegated for the purpose by the 
Roman Pontiff) and the bishop-elect. Sometime before his consecra 
tion, the bishop-elect makes an act of faith and takes an oath of 
loyalty to the Holy See. The principal parts of the consecration 
ceremony are: (i) the reading of the Apostolic mandate; (2) the 
preliminary examination of the candidate; (3) the imposition of 
hands; (4) the anointing of the head and hands with holy 
chrism; (5) the blessing and bestowal of the episcopal insignia 
the crozier and ring before the first Gospel, miter and gloves be 
fore the last Gospel; (6) the blessing of the faithful by the 
newly-consecrated bishop. 

The Bishop's Assistants 

Only the Pope can give a coadjutor to a bishop. This ec 
clesiastic is given to the person of a bishop with right of succes 
sion, sometimes also to the see, and differs from the auxiliary 
bishop in that the latter has not the right of succession. The 
Apostolic letters appointing these bishops set forth his rights; un 
less otherwise stated the coadjutor given a bishop who is entirely 
incapacitated is granted the rights and duties of the bishop. Other 
wise he may only exercise such duties as the bishop may commit 
to him. When requested by the bishop, the coadjutor has the right 
to perform the Pontifical and all other functions of the episcopate. 
When he is given to the see he can, in the territory of the diocese, 
perform all the duties of the bishop except sacred ordination. 

A coadjutor, like a bishop, must reside within the bounds of 
his diocese from which, except in the period of vacation, he may 
be absent only with the permission of his bishop. A coadjutor 
with right of succession becomes the Ordinary immediately on 
the vacancy of the diocese to which he was appointed, provided 
he took legitimate possession by showing his letters to the 
proper authorities. On the other hand, the office of the auxiliary 
bishop expires with that of the bishop, unless his letters of ap 
pointment read otherwise. If the coadjutor was given to the see, 
his office continues even when the see becomes vacant. 

Diocesan synods are ecclesiastical councils or conferences 


which must be held at least every ten years in each diocese for 
discussion of the needs of the clergy and people of that diocese. 
They are generally convoked and presided over by the bishop and 
held in the cathedral They should be attended by the vicar 
general, the canons of the cathedral or the diocesan consultors, 
the rector of the diocesan seminary, at least of the major seminary, 
the deans, at least one deputy of each collegiate church, the pas 
tors of the city where the synod is held, one pastor at least from 
each deanery who is elected by the pastors of that district, the 
abbots who are actual superiors and one of the superiors of 
each clerical order in the diocese, to be designated by their 
provincials or the provincials themselves may attend* The bishop 
has the right to call other ecclesiastics to the meeting, provided 
enough priests are left in each parish to attend to the care of souls. 

Like the Roman Pontiff, each bishop is assisted by a diocesan 
curia who aids him in the government of his diocese. To this body 
belong the vicar general, the officialis, the chancellor, the promoter 
of justice, the defensor vinculi (defender of the bond) the 
synodal judges and examiners, the pastor consultors, the audi 
tors, notaries, couriers and constables. 

Most powerful and influential of these is the vicar general, who 
is appointed by the bishop and may be removed by him at any time 
at his will. By the very fact of his appointment, he receives from 
the bishop participation in his ordinary power over the diocese. 
In administrative matters he is the bishop's alter ego. 

The vicar general must be a priest, at least thirty years of age, 
a doctor or licentiate in theology and canon law, or at least well 
grounded in these subjects, and outstanding for his character and 
judgment. A strange but wise provision in canon law is that he 
must not be related to the bishop in the first or second degree. 
Among the duties of the vicar general are to refer to the bishop 
the principal acts of the curia, and to inform him of matters of 
discipline among the clergy. 

If the vicar general is not a titular bishop, in which case he has 
the privileges and honors due to a bishop, he has by virtue of his 
office the privileges and insignia of a titular protonotary apostolic 
and usually the title of monsignor. The office of the vicar general 
expires by resignation, dismissal by the bishop, or vacancy of the 

As to the other members of the diocesan curia: The chancellor 

The Hierarchy 185 

is a priest appointed by the bishop to take care of the records of the 
curia and the archives. Judicial officers of a diocese are the pro 
moter of justice, whose duties are concerned with criminal proceed 
ings and with cases involving the public welfare, and the defender 
of the bond who deals with cases involving the tie of marriage or 
of holy orders. There are between four and twelve synodal exam 
iners and pastor consultors in each diocese, proposed fay the bishop 
and approved in the diocesan synod. These functionaries lend their 
services in the matter of the examination and appointment of 
pastors, in ecclesiastical trials, the examination of candidates for 
ordination, and of priests to be approved for hearing confessions 
and preaching, and the yearly examination of the junior clergy. 
Couriers carry the messages of a diocesan court; constables are 
officers who execute its sentences or judgments. 

A diocese, like the universal Church, cannot remain without 
authoritative direction. Thus, careful rules have been made for an 
ad interim administration should a see be deprived of its head. For 
many centuries this ad interim government of a diocese was a 
duty of the clergy of the diocese under the supervision of the 
metropolitan or a neighboring bishop. Then it fell upon the chap 
ter, the council of the bishop. But experience proved that a college 
of several persons makes a bad administrator, and the obligation 
was imposed of confiding these powers to a vicar hence, the 
name vicar capitular given to the person so delegated. He must be 
named within eight days following the vacancy of the see. How 
ever, his authority is limited to matters of current administration 
and he may not take any measure which would engage the diocese 
or the administration of the future bishop. When the new bishop 
appointed by the Holy See takes charge of the diocese, he has 
the right to request from the vicar capitular and other officials of 
the diocese an account of their actions during the vacancy. 

The pastors of a group of parishes are united under the general 
supervision of a dean, or vicar-forane, who has powers variable 
at the will of the bishop. He is responsible for the periodical meet 
ing of "ecclesiastical conferences'* at which the priests meet to 
discuss certain questions of theology, Holy Scripture, canon kw 
or ecclesiastical history which are proposed to them by the bishop 
of the diocese. The deans have the right and duty to watch over 
the clergy of the district, to see that they live according to the 
laws of the Church, to see to it that the bishop's orders are carried 


out in their district, to see that rales concerning the keeping of 
the Blessed Sacrament are observed and that the churches and ob 
jects used for divine worship are kept in proper condition. To at 
tend to these matters the dean makes visits to the parishes under 
his charge at stated times and he must make a report to the bishop 
at least once a year. 

Pastors and Priests 

The pastor (a word taken from pasco, feed) is the individual 
priest or moral person (because a religious order or community 
may be in charge of a parish) on whom a parish has been con 
ferred with rights to the benefice of that parish. Pastors exercise 
the care of souls under the authority of the bishop of the diocese 
and they are irremovable when they enjoy the right of perpetuity; 
in other words, they may only be removed or transferred by the 
Holy See for canonical reasons. 

Quasi-pastors are pastors in missionary districts which are sub 
ject to the Propaganda. In the case of a parish united to a re 
ligious house, a cathedral or collegiate chapter, or any other such 
body, the religious superior of the chapter or other legal body to 
which the parish is attached appoints a parochial vicar. This vicar 
is a pastor with the actual care of souls and receives a suitable 
salary from the income of the parish. During the vacancy of the 
parochial office, the bishop may appoint a vicar economus who 
rules the parish ad interim. If a parish is too large, or if for some 
other reason the pastor alone cannot take care of the work, the 
bishop may appoint one or several assistants called in law uicarii 
co-oferatores. By the term "rectors of churches" is meant in 
canon law those priests who have charge of a church that is nei 
ther parochial nor capitular, nor annexed to a religious community 
which holds services in that church. Such is a church connected 
with a seminary or college conducted by the clergy. 

In the following chapter we will deal with parish organization 
and the duties of pastors and their aides chief among them, the 
priests who are appointed as their assistants. But here it should be 
said that the simple priest, who can celebrate the Divine Myster 
ies, possesses the essential of sacerdotal power. It is an article of 
Catholic faith that bishops alone may communicate to others this 
power by ordination. The sacrament of Holy Orders is considered 

The Hierarchy 1 87 

of an ineffaceable character "Thou art a priest for eternity" 
and to give to the clergy the graces necessary to teach and gov 
ern the faithful in spiritual matters. 

According to the Council of Trent, the priesthood which a 
bishop is empowered to communicate in its plenitude is composed 
of degrees forming a hierarchy thus divided: porters, readers, 
exorcists, acolytes, subdeacons, deacons, priests. The first four are 
called minor, the others major orders. The tonsure is not an order 
properly so called, but is conferred today in a ceremony which 
ranks the elected among the clergy of the Catholic Church. 

According to the canon law of our day, no priest may be or 
dained without being attached to a particular diocese, religious 
order or congregation; vagrant clerics are not at all recognized. In 
ancient times a priest attached to a certain church was called clerk 
cardinal of that church, that is to say, he was attached to it like a 
door to its hinge (in Latin car do). As a vestige of the first sense of 
this word "cardinal," the attachment of a priest to his diocese is 
called incardination or incorporation. The transfer of a priest 
from one diocese to another requires from the bishops of these 
dioceses letters of excardination and of incardination. 

The clergy in general enjoy a certain number of immunities; 
those doing them physical violence are guilty of sacrilege. All 
cases against them, both civil and criminal, must be tried in eccle 
siastical court unless for certain countries other provisions are 
made. Cardinals, legates, bishops and other high prelates may not 
be sued in secular courts without permission of the Holy See. All 
other clerics and religious who enjoy "the privilege of the forum" 
cannot be sued in civil court without permission of the Ordinary 
of the place where the case is tried. The Ordinary, however, 
should not refuse such permission if the plaintiff is a lay person. 
In most countries clerics are exempt from military service; when 
forced to pay debts they should not be deprived of what is neces 
sary for a decent living. 

Among the obligations of clerics are intense practice of piety 
and good works. Priests must say Mass at least on Sundays and 
holydays of obligation and must make a spiritual retreat at speci 
fied times. All clerics must go frequently to confession, must 
make each day a meditation of some duration, visit the Blessed 
Sacrament, say the rosary and examine their conscience. Priests 


must continue after ordination to study the sacred sciences and 
undergo periodic examinations in these subjects as outlined by 
their bishop. 

They must attend diocesan conferences, must recite daily the 
canonical offices, must wear an appropriate clerical garb in ac 
cordance with the legitimate custom of the place (thus in America 
clerics are distinguished only by a black suit and Roman collar, 
whereas in Italy or France they must wear the soutane or cassock 
on the street). They must not give bail, nor may they frequent 
gambling places, nor visit places nor attend performances unbe 
coming or even foreign to their calling. Without Apostolic indult 
they may not practice medicine nor surgery, nor may they run for 
offices of senator or deputy in those countries where there is a 
prohibition of the Pope. They may not volunteer for military 
service without permission of their bishop, nor must they take 
part or help in any way in internal revolts and disturbances of 
public order. They must not be absent from their diocese for any 
length of time without the permission of their bishop. Clerics in 
major orders are forbidden to marry, except in certain of the 
Oriental Churches 'which are exempt from this provision of West 
ern Canon Law. 

In the next chapter we shall follow the priest from his place in 
the hierarchy to trace more fully his activities in the parish of the 
diocese, the immemorial place of his ordinary work in the Church. 


THE PARISH is the unit and core of the Church, just as 
the family is the unit and core of the human organization which 
we call the State. But the parish is considerably more than part of 
an organization; it is more than the sum total of a section of men 
of whom all are engaged from time to rime in the act of the virtue 
of religion. It is a unit in the complete life of the Church, insofar 
as it binds together a part of the world with all that stands thereon 
to God through the worshipful activity of men in that area. In 
the framework of the entire Church the parish is a group of Chris 
tian people under the spiritual authority of their parish priest or 
pastor; the parish united with other parishes to make up the 
dioceses and, under the Supreme Pastor and Bishop, the Pope, to 
form the universal Church. 

The center of parish life is the parish church, and the sacred 
and familiar center of the church is the tabernacle on the altar 
before which burns the sacred lamp the tabernacle in which 
dwells, among His children, Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. 
Thus, the great business of the day in every parish, in every mis 
sion where there are Catholics, is the Mass. 

In a parish a priest does not celebrate Mass alone; he is sur 
rounded by the members of his flock and he is assisted by a server 
who may be a boy or a man. In some cases a woman may make 
the responses from behind the communion rail, at which times the 
priest serves himself at the altar, placing close at hand the cruets 
of water and wine although this necessity rarely arises in even a 
small parish church. This small fact is the symbol of a greater 


truth: the server, no matter how young or heedless he may be, 
holds at the foot of the altar the role of the Christian people of the 
parish; it is in the name of the whole parish that he replies to the 
celebrant of the Mass and presents to him the matter of the Sacri 
fice. Here is the whole life of the parish in summary: the priest 
charged by God to accomplish the essential work, sole dispenser 
of the sacraments and graces conferred by them; but not the 
priest by himself rather the priest in the midst of the faithful, the 
priest seconded by the faithful, the priest giving to the faithful 
and receiving from them. 

The parish priest has many other tasks he is teacher and 
preacher, and guide, friend, consoler and leader; he is philanthro 
pist and inspirer. But so, too, are other men who are moved by 
other ideals and other motives. He is all that such men may be, and 
does all that they may do, but beyond all their actions and apart 
from all other things, he is steward of the spiritual treasury of the 
Church of Christ, authorized and empowered minister of Christ's 

As human beings, as intellectual and civilized members of 
communities and, of course, nations, both priest and people have 
the ordinary, temporal, secular work of men and women to do. 
But they know and act upon the knowledge that all these things 
derive their supreme importance from the fact that they are part 
of the work of salvation. 

The Parish and Canon Law 

According to canon law, a parish, as we understand it, is de 
fined as follows: "The territory of each diocese should be dis 
tributed into districts, and to each of these should be assigned a 
special church with a determined part of the flock, over which is 
to be placed a local pastor who shall take the necessary care of 
souls." The three usually assigned features of a parish are then a 
fixed territory and a distinct part of the population; their own 
proper church, and their own pastor. 

However, the details of a parish organization vary widely 
with the condition of the Church in the various countries of the 
world. In mission lands where vicariates or prefectures apostolic 
replace the established dioceses of other countries which come 
automatically under the Congregation of the Consistory, the mi- 

The Parish and the Parish Priest 1 9 1 

nor ecclesiastical divisions with their own rector are called quasi- 
parishes and are attached like the other ecclesiastical organizations 
of the country to the Propaganda. 

Canon 216, section 4 of the Code of Canon Law also recog 
nizes the existence of parishes not divided by territory but by the 
difference of language of people in the same town or city, pro 
vided the permission of the Holy See is first obtained. There are 
in the United States, especially in large cities like New York, 
Chicago and St. Louis, a number of such so-called national par- 
isbes, for in consequence of immigration, the people of various 
nationalities upon arriving on these shores asked for priests of 
their own race who could speak their language. The congregation 
gathered under the spiritual leadership of a priest speaking several 
languages could not be defined as a national parish, but when a 
priest is exclusively appointed for a portion of the faithful who 
were or are united by reason of speaking the same language, there 
was and is a national parish in the strict sense provided it was or is 
recognized as such by the ecclesiastical authorities. The national 
churches are more or less extraordinary phenomena in canon as 
well as in civil law, but when they have been established in the 
regular way, there is no reason to doubt that they are canonical 
parishes in the full sense of the term. 

There exist also, and even in countries where the Latin rite 
prevails, parishes of a different rite than Latin. They are consid 
ered always as lawfully established, since canon law leaves the 
Oriental discipline untouched. Thus there are in the United States 
a number of Greek-Ruthenian parishes, especially in Pennsylvania, 
under the jurisdiction of a Ruthenian bishop. There is some doubt 
whether these parishes may be called "canonical" in the usual 
sense of the term, but there is no doubt that they are lawful and 
recognized by the Roman Church. 

There also are in many countries, but not so far as we know in 
the United States, consistorial parishes, or benefices, Le., those 
whose establishment and appointments are reserved to the Apos 
tolic See. There are, however, many religious parishes, namely 
those incorporated with a religious community by virtue of an 
Apostolic indult. These parishes are cared for by a monastery or 
convent, though the actual pastor alone is in reality the pastor 
with a pastor's rights and duties. 


An important distinction has in the past been made between 
removable and irremovable parishes, according to the degree of 
permanency enjoyed by the pastor. The functions of movable and 
irremovable pastors do not differ; it is when their removal, trans 
fer or law of residence is considered that a marked distinction 
exists. An irremovable pastor cannot be removed or transferred 
unless for a canonical reason, i.e., a reason which is set forth by 
the law of the Catholic Church. Other pastors are removable, such 
as religious and those who are in charge of quasi-parishes which 
have not yet attained the status of a canonical parish. Pastors who 
are members of the secular clergy may be permanent. 

The Roman Pontiff as head of the universal Church may erect 
or establish parishes in any part of the world. This power is usu 
ally exercised through the diocesan bishop or local Ordinary. 
Cardinals may not erect parishes within their titular churches nor 
may metropolitans interfere with their suffragan bishops in the 
matter. Abbots or prelates nullius exercise over the territory un 
der them the same rights as bishops in their diocese. Religious 
superiors have no rights whatever with regard to establishing 

A canonical requirement for the establishment of a parish is 
proof that an endowment has been provided. The requirements in 
this matter are much less rigid than formerly, for legal proof (i.e. 
gathered from the documents or witnesses) is no longer neces 
sary. The Code of Canon Law states specifically, "it is not for 
bidden to establish a parish or quasi-parish even if a sufficient en 
dowment is not immediately available, provided it can be reason 
ably foreseen that the necessary support will be forthcoming" 
(canon 1415). Hence all that is necessary is that the bishop should 
be morally certain that sufficient funds will be supplied. Some 
guarantee must be offered for the necessary support of church 
and ministers, but the Code leaves it to each Ordinary to judge 
whether the guarantee is sufficient to warrant the establishment 
of a new parish. 

The Church discourages the permission to begin any building 
before a good sum is on hand, and also binds the Ordinary, after 
consultation with the diocesan board of administrators, to see to 
it that the parish endowment fund is invested at once "in safe and 
interest-bearing property or titles." The money and interest may 

The Parish and the Parish Priest 1 93 

not be used for any other purpose. The investment is canonically 
invalid until the Ordinary has consulted the diocesan (not local) 
board for proper administration of church property. He is not 
bound by this advice, but is bound to hear it. He is bound by the 
express stipulation that a donation be applied to a certain church 
he cannot direct it to another parish. 

The pastor receives his appointment from the Ordinary of his 
diocese, and with the exception of parishes reserved to the Holy 
See (of which none would appear to exist in the United States), 
Ordinaries have the unimpeded right to appoint pastors to vacant 
parishes as they deem fit. A vacant parish should be provided with 
a pastor within six months after the bishop has been notified of the 
vacancy. Only special circumstances of place and persons can per 
mit a delay, for instance, unsafe conditions by reason of war or 
a shifting population; or if there be a lack of priests qualified for 
parish work. 

The conferring of parishes or benefices by a bishop upon a 
priest must be free of charge. Any contrary practice is regarded 
as simoniacal, null and void as transactions, and not binding upon 

On the other hand, the bishop may attach pensions to par 
ish benefices. This is no more than fair to former pastors or as 
sistant priests retired for old age after years spent in service to 
the people of the parish. A part of the church's income is set 
apart for this lawful purpose; in the United States it is an al 
lowance drawn from the parish revenues, not from the pastors 
salary or income. However, no parish is to be burdened with a 
new tax on account of a pension and the bishop may only decree 
it if there is something left after the expenses of the parish have 
been cared for. 

Among the sources of parish income mentioned by canon law 
are: property owned by the church or parish as a corporation; 
certain and regular contributions from a family or juridical per 
son; voluntary but dependable offerings of the parishioners to 
their pastor; stole fees (these are the fees given, not as a payment 
of salary, but as part of the cleric's decent support and are regu 
lated by the diocesan statutes such are stipends sanctioned by 
custom for such parochial functions as baptisms, marriages, fu 
nerals, etc., although free service may not be denied to those per 
sons unable to make this offering). 


The Duties of a Pastor 

To return to the functions of the pastor: he is expressly- 
charged iwth the care of souls. He is head of the parish and he has 
the right to command and to expect obedience and loyalty, but he 
is also a spiritual father and the very nature of his office vests him 
with another character and another kind of responsibility than 
that of temporal heads or political administrators. 

It is this primary function of the parish priest which when 
displayed in its fullness has placed the seal of personal sanctity 
upon such figures as St. John Baptist Vianney, the Cure of Ars, or 
St. Vincent de Paul, and has invested the whole body of the 
priests of the Church, for the multitude of the laity, with a halo 
of love and grateful reverence. As there have been Popes and 
bishops who have fallen far short of the lofty ideals of their sa 
cred characters, so, too, there have been many instances of parish 
priests who have given scandal; but no truth is held more firmly 
by Catholics than that the human failings or sins of the clergy in 
no way minimize, still less destroy the effects of the sacraments 
administered by them, and that on the whole the personal merits 
of the priesthood as a body far outweigh the personal defects or 
failures of a minority. 

The first duty of a pastor towards his flock is to administer to 
them the sacraments. He introduces the newborn into the Chris 
tian family, pouring the baptismal waters upon their head. This 
ceremony, apparently so modest, gives to the pastor one more 
child and increases by just so much his paternal responsibilities. 
In blessing marriages, the pastor calls the grace of God down 
upon the new family and in a sense takes upon himself their cares 
and responsibilites. In the name of God he pardons the sinners 
of his flock; to souls already advanced in sainthood he gives good 
counsel and the needed direction. He dispenses to all who come 
the Eucharistic Communion, the God he calls down each day 
upon the altar at Mass. He does all in his power to bring his peo 
ple oftener to the Holy Table by the number of Communions 
he judges whether his parish is truly alive. That even little chil 
dren may be nourished, as soon as they may understand the con 
sequences of the act, by the Body of Christ, he devotes himself 
with special interest to their instruction that they may make their 
first Communion at an early age. Finally, he carries to the sick and 

The Parish and the Parish Priest 195 

dying the comfort and graces of the sacrament of Extreme Unc 
tion that they may prepare themselves for the journey from rime 
to eternity; and when God calls to Himself a member of the 
parochial family, it is the pastor who blesses the body of the dead, 
prays in the name of the universal Church for the repose of his 
soul and conducts him to the field of the dead where he sleeps in 
consecrated ground under the protection of the Cross. 

In addition to the primary obligation of the pastor to dispense 
the sacraments is his moral and official obligation to hold Divine 
services, to watch over his people's moral welfare and, insofar as 
possible, to ward off any danger to faith and morals that may 
threaten the children in the schools, to dispense charity to the poor 
and the sick and to care for the education of the young. 1 To im 
press the truths of faith more firmly upon the minds of the faith 
ful, the pastor must see to it that sermons are preached fre 
quently in his church, and at least regularly at High Mass on Sun 
day. Often an order of the bishop calls for a sermon at all Sunday 

We are all familiar with the form of these discourses. After 
the Gospel is read upon the altar, either the celebrant of the Mass 
or another priest ascends the pulpit. After giving necessary an 
nouncements concerning the welfare of the parish, feastdays and 
the offices of the church, publishing the banns of marriage and 
recommending the dead to the prayers of the faithful, the pastor 
speaks to his people of the truths of their religion. Pastors often 
make arrangements to bring to their people, and especially during 
Lent, preachers of religious orders whose eloquence might arouse 
them to greater fervor or devotion. Wherever possible, they also 
arrange for an annual retreat with separate services for men, 
women and children, at which times great importance is attached 
to the sermons. Particularly important is the preaching of mis 
sions. These are periods during which special efforts are exerted, 
usually by members of religious orders, or of diocesan mission 
groups trained for this work, to arouse the fervor of the parish 
and renew its zeal. 

The spiritual administration of a parish supposes that the pas 
tor should be personally acquainted with his parishioners insofar 
as this is possible. He is particularly charged to interest himself in 
the children, to see (especially in those cases when they go to 

1 See Ch. xvra, "Catholic Education." 


public schools or other institutions where no religious instruc 
tion is given) that they begin the study of the catechism as soon 
as they are able and receive their first Communion and are con 
firmed by the bishop at an early age. 

Parish books must be kept in which are registered the baptism, 
marriages, deaths and results of a census of the parish; an authen 
tic copy of all of these must be sent every year to the diocesan 
archives. The pastor must also keep a register of confirmations 
and burials. He should notify the pastor of the parish where they 
were baptized of the marriage of a couple actually living in his 
parish, or married by him, and he publishes banns three times in 
advance of a marriage and notes the fact upon his register. 

He must also (and this brings us to the temporal administra 
tion of the parish) keep regular account of the foundations for 
Masses to be said and for which the faithful have turned over the 
honorarium to him. He must also keep ledgers or journals of the 
receipts and expenses of the parish. He must administer the prop 
erty of the parish according to law, and if he has been culpably 
negligent in the performance of this duty, he is bound to make 
restitution himself. He is entitled to stole fees established by ap 
proved custom (such as for baptisms, marriages, etc.) or by law 
ful taxation determined by the provincial council or in an assem 
blage of the bishops of the province. He is also entitled to a sal 
ary sufficient for his decent support. 

In large parishes the work is divided between the pastor and 
his assistants, who are appointed from among the secular clergy 
by the local Ordinary after consultation with the pastor. 

Lay auxiliaries of the pastor in the exercise of his liturgical 
functions are the sacristan, the organist and the choir (who are 
often the paid employees of the church), choir boys and altar 
boys. But it is not only among those actually attached to the 
church that the pastor has the right to find his auxiliaries, nor 
even among the schoolteachers or the Sisters of the hospitals and 
orphanages. Every good parishioner can be of assistance to his 
pastor. There are many women, often busy women and mothers 
of families, who devote time each week to the care of the altar 
linen of the surplices of priests and altar boys, to the adornment 
of the church and altar. Others, both men and women, place them 
selves at the disposition of the priest to teach catechism. 

Just who are parishioners? They are the baptized Roman 

The Parish and the Parish Priest 1 97 

Catholics living within the defined boundaries of a determined 
parish. Exception is made only of those Catholics who are mem 
bers of a national parish established, as we have already noted, 
for the persons of a nationality speaking a different language 
from that of the parish church or belonging to a different rite of 
the Catholic Church. 2 

This is the strictly legal definition, but the apostolic priest does 
not limit his activities to those who practice the Faith. As Abbe 
Michonneau writes: 

Always mindful of suburban parishes, we would rather not restrict 
the term "parish" to the Christian community any more than we would 
want to equate it simply with the confines of a parish. We are glad 
that the word designates both believers and the multitude of half- 
believers or total unbelievers. We are glad that it focuses our attention 
and thought on those who "come to church" as well as those who do 
not, for the simple reason that we do not want to abandon one group 
or forget the other. We do not wish to choose, because choosing means 
sacrificing something and the true shepherd of souls cannot consent to 
that. We are glad that the word "parish" reminds us of our pastoral 
duties at once and that the very mention of it conjures up both the 
joy and the anguish of a shepherd of souls. 3 

Catholic Action in the Parish 

Although we shall deal in a later chapter with the general sub 
ject of Catholic Action (i.e. the apostolate of the laity under the 
direction of the hierarchy), it should be stated here that the chief 
unit of this action is the parish. Even if such activities in a parish 
usually go hand in hand with those accomplished by regional and 
national organizations, the best results are obtained by those which 
are sustained and nourished by parishes. This is true because the 
parish is a sociological center operating in those areas in which the 
individual can best be approached the family and the neighbor 
hood. Again to quote Abbe Michonneau: 4 

The parish can act upon persons because it deals with them at every 
stage of their development within the family childhood, adolescence 
and maturity; and it does so by influencing not only individuals but 
also the family, and, in a more general way, the mentality of the 
neighborhood. Indeed, the chief accomplishment of the parochial apos- 

2 See Ch. xvi, "The Eastern Churches." 

3 Abbe G. Michonneau and Abbe R. Meurice, Catholic Action and the 
Parish) p. 5. 

*lbid., pp. 22-3. 


tolate today seems to be its influence upon the home and the awakening 
of numerous small communities. As a result, the preaching of the word 
is no longer confined to the pulpit and many more people benefit by 
spiritual direction. The ideal of perfection is no longer one of individ 
ual advancement. The leaven has been put where it belongs. The 
parish priest now arouses and assembles the community, starting from 
the basic cell (which is the home), reaching the entire community 
(which is the parish), and including all the more or less sporadic and 
enduring smaller communities formed to answer some particular need. 
Eventually these groups become centers whence good influences radiate, 
and points where human personality is no longer cramped but enabled 
to reach its full development, morally and spiritually as well as mate 

It thus becomes the work of the pastor of a parish to enkindle 
the apostolic spirit in those under his charge and to make his pa 
rishioners conscious of their responsibilities to others. There are 
many places into which a priest may not go, either because of in 
sufficiency of numbers or lack of opportunity. In home, workshop 
or office, as well as in his social and professional circles, the mili 
tant apostle can apply his activity. The parish priest finds and de 
velops such laymen and acts as their chaplain, hence we have the 
numerous study clubs and discussion groups found in many par 
ishes today and the organizations, social and charitable, which 
play their role in the life of the community* And since every 
major achievement of Catholic Action starts with the family, one 
of the most urgent tasks undertaken in many places is the instruc 
tion of the family and the deepening of its spiritual life through 
such groups as the Cana and Pre-Cana Conferences for married 
couples and those intending to be married. 

The Parish and the Worker 

In many parts of the world the "de-Christianization" of the 
masses, due to the inroads of Marxist and other materialistic ideol 
ogies, have alienated vast numbers, particularly among the work 
ing class, from belief in and practice of their Catholic religion. 
Well before the last world war there sprang up in Belgium and 
France due to the initiative of Abbe Cardijn, the great social 
apostle such groups as the Jocistes (J&messe Oiemere Cfftholi- 
que) whose members carried the apostolate into the workmen's 
world. The Jocistes and an even earlier German Catholic workers' 
association founded by Adolph Kolping became the models for 
many similar movements which labored valiantly to preserve 

The Parish and the Parish Priest 1 99 

Christian values in the face of the rising tide of social revolution, 
war and Communism. 

The problems created by World War II and its aftermath have 
made necessary many adaptations of the Church's work on the 
parish level. Mass migrations and the influx of refugees from vari 
ous territories under Communist domination have posed numerous 
problems in the new communities and parishes in which they 
must be resettled. This, of course, is especially true of West Ger 
many and Austria. On the other hand, there has taken place in 
Western European countries an alarming increase in Communist 
party membership of former Catholics among the workers. The 
causes of this increase are complex and historical, and we may not 
go into them here, limiting ourselves to the statement of the un 
happy fact that great percentages of the worker population of 
France, Italy and also Belgium follow Communist and Marxist 

It was to meet these conditions that there sprang up in France 
one of the most interesting experiments in pastoral work of the 
twentieth century the Mission de France, commonly known as 
the movement of the "priest-workers." In order to reach the 
masses unattached to any parish and often hostile to God and 
Church, these priests took off their ecclesiastical garb and found 
employment in mines and factories, even doing the heaviest kind 
of work on the docks of the ports of France. It was their idea to 
live the life of the masses, to share in their risk and sacrifices so 
that the workers might come to know the priest, resume a contact 
that had been broken, and be reconciled with the Church. In this 
magnificent apostolic idea they were encouraged, approved and 
blessed by such members of the French hierarchy as Cardinal 
Suhard, and all over the world their experiment was followed with 
interest and admiration. 

At no time were the priest-workers over a hundred in number, 
of whom eighty were secular and some twenty members of re 
ligious orders Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans and Capuchins. 
These priests did not expect immediate results nor were these ob 
tained; nevertheless their example, prayers and sacrifices, and their 
identification of themselves with the proletariat bore fruit. They 
gained much sympathy; they caused the priestly vocation to be 
respected at least in their own persons; and they inspired con 
fidence in their fellow-workers. Gradually they were given the 


roles of counselors and arbitrators in labor disputes and it was here 
that their difficulties began. In France it is not possible to secure 
employment in mines and factories without belonging to a labor 
union, the priest-workers as natural leaders soon were charged 
with responsible positions in these organizations, many of which 
are Communist-controlled. It was impossible for them to avoid 
disputes and strikes and finally some were arrested for participa 
tion in violence. In addition they found that in sharing the lives 
of the workers and the living quarters of the poor, they were ex 
posed to moral temptations against which a priest could defend 
himself under normal conditions. But as there is little time in the 
life of a worker for recollection and prayer or even the celebra 
tion of daily Mass, they were deprived of these supports. 

The experiment of the priest-workers began in 1943. After 
1950-51 certain disquieting evidence began to appear. Communist 
leaders were heard to rejoice that these priests had been won over 
to the cause of the workers, and that they no longer were part of a 
Church "which allied itself to capitalism"; and in fact several 
apostasies did occur. The French hierarchy was forced to inter 
fere and the Holy See became alarmed. In November 1953 three 
French cardinals journeyed to Rome to discuss the matter and 
after their return the following decisions were published: i) that 
the experiment begun in 1943 could not be maintained in its first 
form; 2) that priest- workers were henceforth forbidden to assume 
posts of responsibility in labor unions; 3) that the length of time 
devoted to work in a factory must be limited in their case to 
three hours a day; 4) that the seminary at Limoges for the training 
of the priest-workers was to be closed down. 

Although the form of this activity has been changed, its es 
sential aim has remained one of the Church's preoccupations; 
other types of activity have risen up to take their place not only 
among industrial workers but among all the people of "de-Chris 
tianized" areas, urban and rural, of France. The Mission de France 
(we will note that the name remains the same) was canonically 
constituted in 1954 by a decree of the Congregation of the Con 
sistory. Under the direction of a duly appointed member of the 
French hierarchy, the priests of the Mission are trained at a special 
seminary at Pontigny, undertaking in advance to go to any "mis 
sionary" area of their country to which they may be assigned. An 
unusually large number of priests appeared for training at Pon- 

The Parish and the Parish Priest 201 

tigny, and so far excellent results have been obtained by those 
who have embarked upon pastoral work in the most disinherited 
regions of their land. There is no question that such activities are 
needed and must go on, not only in France but in other countries, 
and for the same reasons. 

In Italy, between 1948 and 1951, the Jesuit Father Lombardi 
enlisted hundreds of thousands of workers in his "Crusade of 
Charity" and did much to stem the Communist tide. With the ap 
proval of the Holy See he has created an institute to train priests 
in a new kind of pastoral approach. Here priests from all over the 
world take part in courses ranging from six to eight weeks in 
which are discussed techniques for dealing with problems of mod 
ern society, industrial life, and the counteracting of Marxist prop 
aganda among the working classes. 

In this respect every country has its own problems and must 
adapt over-all directives to specific ways of meeting them. In the 
United States there is not the same need for worker-priests, since 
the industrial worker here is not a proletarian in the usual sense of 
the word and for historical reasons does not share the anti-clerical 
attitudes of his counterpart in European countries. Pastoral work 
is in most places conducted within the territory of the parish. The 
difficulties that are encountered are of a different kind and are 
created more by materialism and indifference than by active hos 
tility toward the Church, although it cannot be forgotten that this 
is a preponderantly Protestant country. There exist of course the 
problems of the Church in the South where Catholics are few and 
widely scattered and must be served in general by priests from 
other sections, since local vocations to the priesthood are rare. In 
recent years, moreover, due to the migrations of textile and other 
industrial workers from the strongly Catholic sections of New 
England and the Middle West, many Catholics have established 
themselves in the Southern States and have pointed up the need 
for more priests and more parishes. In other parts of the country, 
pastors have to deal with complex problems created by immigra 
tion from such countries as Puerto Rico and Mexico. On the 
whole, however, despite some leakage the Church in the United 
States has grown steadily in numbers and now constitutes around 
one-fifth of the total population with a membership, according to 
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ANYTHING LIKE a complete account of the Catholic 
Church's activities in the mission field would have to begin the 
story with the missionary work of Christ Himself, and would be 
essentially the whole history of the Church from its origin down 
to the present day. For the teaching of the Gospel of Christ, the 
spreading of belief in that Gospel throughout all the races and 
nations of humanity is the fundamental, never-ending aim of the 
Catholic Church. Upon that central task all others depend, or 
from it they derive; the Church can never be static. While it is, 
of course, quite true that to care for and to develop the religious 
life of those nations or parts of nations where Catholicism has 
long been implanted is her constant concern, nevertheless she re 
gards it as a main article of her divine commission to go forth 
with her message to those races or nations of mankind who have 
not yet been evangelized, or which so far have resisted Christ. 

The energy with which this duty of the Church has been 
performed has varied greatly, it is true, in the past ages. Like all 
other activities of the Church, it has been subject to world condi 
tions and to the fluctuating zeal or devotion or ability of the 
human instruments responsible for carrying them on. But at no 
time have they ever been suspended, and under the modern Popes, 
despite the vicissitudes of our times, they have been pushed with 
extraordinary determination. 

In the encyclical Rerum Ecclesiae of 1926, Pius XI outlined a 
complete program, in furtherance of plans already begun under 
Benedict XV, to make the Church in mission countries so far as 


possible self-sufficient and independent of European missionaries, 
Like Saint Paul, Saint Matthew and Saint Mark, the Pontiff af 
firmed the supranational character of the Church and refused to 
admit any barriers of race and color among its ministers. 

He urged upon missionary bishops the encouragement and 
increase of the native clergy, and the development of their re 
sponsibility. Among their own people they would know the best 
way of making converts; they could preach and teach across 
the difficult barrier of language. In time of wars or political dis 
turbances, they would not be under suspicion as foreigners. Eu 
ropean missionaries therefore, he said, must regard themselves as 
pioneers and give way to the native clergy they had helped to 
train and establish. Above all, the European missionaries were not 
to admit any suggestion that "such natives are of an inferior race 
and of obtuse intelligence." Experience had shown that the natives 
of regions of Asia and Africa could hold their own with Euro 
pean races. The "extreme slowness of mind" of those living in 
the barbarous regions was to be attributed to the conditions of 
their lives. These bold statements preceded an explicit command 
to missionary bishops to extend their seminaries and promote in 
every way the formation of a native clergy. The native Catholics 
were to be freely admitted to the ancient religious congregations, 
and encouraged to found houses of such orders in their own 

One of the early acts of Pius XI was the appointment of 
apostolic delegates to three principal missions lands Indo-China, 
China and South Africa. These prelates were charged with an 
apostolic visit to the missions of areas where a whole series of 
intricate problems had to be considered, problems which were not 
only those of the Church in those particular countries but often 
of a general nature. The apostolic delegates assembled under their 
auspices the various chiefs of mission, and outlined to them what 
must henceforth be the common law of action. The immediate 
effect of this centralizing policy was to make the Church in each 
of the mission countries more aware of its spiritual personality, 
and to implant in those regions a sort of spiritual "Home Rule" 
which was to have great effect upon the whole future direction of 
missionary labors. 

Another important action of Pope Pius XI was the concentra 
tion in Rome of the resources of the missionary apostolate. In 

The Mission Field 205 

1933 he urged upon the already active Missionary Union of the 
Clergy the establishment of the Union in every diocese for the 
purpose of sending to Rome "all the collections, even small, made 
in every nation and by all the sons of the Church for the benefit 
of the missions in general." He made, however, no objection to 
the collection of funds and the acceptance of benefactions by 
missionary institutes according to their own methods. 

Earlier by his moto proprio of June 4, 1929, Pius XI had co 
ordinated in Rome, under the direction of the Pope and the Con 
gregation of the Propaganda, the action of the Society for the 
Propagation of the Faith, as well as that of the Association of 
the Holy Childhood and of the Society of St. Peter the Apostle. 
The transfer to Rome of the headquarters of the Society for the 
Propagation of the Faith from France, the nation of its foundation 
by a laywoman, Pauline Jaricot, placed directly in the hands of 
the Holy See one of the most powerful instruments ever devised 
for arousing interest in foreign missions and providing for their 
needs. The national directors of the Society in various countries 
of the world are consultors of the organization in Rome; a second 
group of consultors is composed of men of every nationality fa 
miliar with mission work who reside in the Holy City. The 
general council of the Society assembles regularly once a month; 
each year the budget for the relief of the missions is carefully 
planned, and all foreign members are begged to be present on this 
occasion. In recent years the Society has raised as much as 
$14,000,000 annually for mission needs. 

The Fides agency, created in 1927 by the superior council of 
the Society for the Propagation of the Faith is also in Rome and 
distributes to the Catholic press throughout the world news con 
cerning and of interest to the missionary apostolate. There is in 
nearly every mission station a correspondent of Fides who sends 
a weekly report to the news agency in Rome. 

The Pontifical Association of the Holy Childhood was like 
wise founded in France to associate the children in Catholic 
schools all over the world with the work of the missionaries among 
children in pagan lands. With the resources obtained by many 
small contributions, millions of abandoned children have been 
saved, have been baptized and placed in Christian homes, schools 
and orphanages. Many other forms of relief social, medical and 
educational have been carried on through the funds raised by 


this Association which not only makes small Catholics "mission- 
minded," but assures the future of the Church in remote quarters 
of the globe. Branches of the Association exist in almost every 
country; in the United States alone two million members may be 

The Society of St. Peter the Apostle interests itself in raising 
funds for the preparation of the native clergy, providing for the 
building, maintenance and staffing of seminaries in mission coun 
tries. In 1955 it distributed $3,200,000 for that purpose, and al 
though the sum may seem large, several more millions of dollars 
were needed, for the training of native priests has become one 
of the most urgent needs for the stability of the Church in many 
parts of the world for reasons that are becoming clearer with every 
day that passes. 

Pius XI foresaw this need and also that for the establishment 
of a native hierarchy. In 1926 he consecrated with his own 
hands six native Chinese bishops, and the following year the first 
Japanese student ever to sit upon the benches of the Propaganda 
was raised to the episcopacy. In 1933 Pope Pius XI consecrated 
six more Asiatic bishops Annamite, Hindu, Chinese; more were 
to follow; the first non-white cardinal was created by him in the 
person of His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Tien-chensin, a member 
of the Society of the Divine Word. At the time of the death of this 
missionary Pope, forty-eight native prefects, vicars and bishops 
had been appointed. The Ethiopian Pontifical College was in 
augurated in Rome in 1931, and countless seminaries for the train 
ing of native priests were erected in the various mission fields. 

The mission policies of Pius XI were carried out and broad 
ened by Pius XII. His pontificate has been marked by numerous 
additions to the native hierarchy of mission countries. In 1955 
alone twelve native bishops were appointed: one in Korea, one in 
Japan, two in the Peninsula of Malacca, two in Burma, five in 
India, one in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, one in the Cameroons. 
If we estimate that there are now twenty-five Chinese bishops 
for we cannot be certain of their survival in view of the unhappy 
situation of that country the total number of Asiatic and African 
archbishops and bishops of the Latin rite is ninety-six at the present 
time. Pius XII has also established diplomatic relations with many 
mission countries including a number of those which have only 
recently emerged from colonial rule. 

The Mission Field 207 

While the purely spiritual purpose of the mission is primary, 
the historical role and the importance of the geographical, ethno 
logical and scientific discoveries of the missionaries are not to be 
questioned, and both Pius XI and Pius XII, wishing to familiarize 
Catholics everywhere with these aspects of their work, organ 
ized in Rome in the Holy Years of 1925 and 1950 great expositions 
or panoramas of missionary action, and since the time of Pius XI 
there has been established in Rome the Missionary-Ethnological 
Museum. In these expositions, the scientific, medical and literary- 
roles of the missions were emphasized; the native contribution to 
Catholic architecture and art were accorded recognition as factors 
in creating a deeper union between the life of the new regional 
populations and the Catholic Church. The whole mission endeavor, 
too often conceived by Catholics as a work for the devout, priests 
and religious, but outside the interests of their own daily lives, was 
shown as a concept of world importance, of great value not only 
to religious but to civil society. 

Special interest has been brought to the subject of medical aid 
to the missions, and not only have missionaries been urged to give 
more time to the study of diseases in the territories where they 
labor, but several societies of medical missionaries have been 
founded and numerous associations formed among the laity for 
sending medical supplies to foreign lands. There are about 
10,000 lepers in 200 leprosaria under Catholic auspices in various 
parts of the globe. 

In addition to the three pontifical societies with headquarters 
in Rome a number of other organizations in aid of the missions 
are spread throughout the world. Among these we may mention 
the Societe des Amis des Missions in France, and in the United 
States the Catholic Students Mission Crusade which counts at 
present more than a million members organized in 50 dioceses and 
3,100 educational institutions. 

Mission Personnel 

Missionary vocations have greatly increased with the spread 
of general interest in the work, and a number of new missionary 
congregations have been established in addition to the older in 
stitutes working so long and untiringly in the field. More than 
25,000 priests of different orders, congregations and societies are 
at present attached to the missionary army. Most of them are 


members of religious communities which have also other activi 
ties, although there are societies specially and exclusively- destined 
for the missions. Such are the foreign mission congregations of 
Paris, Milan, Burgos, Maryknoll, Quebec, the African Missions 
of Lyons, the White Fathers, the Picpucians, the Missionaries of 
Scheut, of Mary Hill, of Parma, of Verona, of the Consolata of 
Turin, of the Divine Word, the Canadian Missionaries of St. 
Francis Xavier. 

Brothers to the number of 10,000 (roughly) are acting as 
teachers, nurses and assistants in mission fields, and belong to 28 
different institutes. Among these are the Brothers of the Christian 
Schools who before World War II had 1,300 of their number teach 
ing 48,000 students in China, Japan, Egypt, India, the Holy Land, 
the Philippine Islands and other places; the Oblates of Mary Im 
maculate have over three hundred brothers in Northern Canada, 
Laos, South Africa and Ceylon. The Brothers of Christian Educa 
tion of Ploermel and other congregations render important mis 
sion aid to mission priests as catechists, architects, carpenters, 
nurses, etc. 

Congregations of women have multiplied and developed in 
unexpected proportions. There are now more than 66,000 mis 
sionary religious belonging to 447 institutes of women. The 
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have houses in India, in Ceylon, 
in Japan, the Philippines, and many parts of Africa. The Mis 
sionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles have houses in Egypt 
and in Western Africa. The Sisters of the Holy Ghost second the 
efforts of the Holy Ghost Fathers in Africa, and over 600 Mary- 
knoll Sisters aid the Fathers of their society in various parts of 
the world. 

To these exclusively missionary congregations we must add 
also some of the principal congregations of women who, while 
engaged in other work, send a large number of their members to 
mission territories. The Sisters of Charity have numerous houses 
and hospitals in Africa, in Asia and Oceania. The Sisters of St. Jo 
seph of Cluny have more than six hundred of their number di 
vided among the missions of Africa, of Madagascar, of India, 
Oceania and America. It is not astonishing that by their zeal these 
women of the Catholic apostolate have been able to arouse voca 
tions among other women in die countries where they are expend 
ing their lives and their efforts; it is estimated that at present 

The Mission Field 209 

fully one-half of women religious in the missions axe natives of 
these countries. 

Despite the almost superhuman efforts of the foreign mis 
sionaries and the great increase in native clergy and religious, the 
urgency of mission work has rendered necessary the existence of 
native lay catechists. The employment of the catechist, far from 
impeding the development of the native clergy, is indeed an en 
couragement to it. Not only does it lead to greater piety and zeal 
among the laity, but it is ofttimes a direct road to the priesthood. 
The catechists are the indispensable helpers of the clergy they 
are properly appointed auxiliaries attached to the missions in a 
regular and permanent manner whose work is the conversion of 
pagans and the enrollment of neophytes. 

Their duties vary greatly between the various missions and 
sometimes within the same mission. Certain of them travel con 
stantly within a given territory for the purpose of giving religious 
instruction. Others accompany the missionary as companions, col 
lecting information, acting as councilor, secretary, man of confi 
dence and factotum of the priest. Other catechists act as masters 
in the mission schools or as "chief of post." These last preside over 
the assemblies of Christians in the absence of the missionary, con 
duct prayers and singing, visit the sick, prepare the dying to re 
ceive the last sacraments and bring the priest to such as are in 
extreme need. 

Given the importance of the role of the catechist in countries 
where priests are few, it is evident that their recruitment, forma 
tion and placing are among the greatest cares of the missionary. 
A great many missions have adopted the system of the Normal 
Catechist Schools, or institutions for the instruction of native 
young men sometimes accompanied by their wives who wish 
to act as mission helpers. Once in the field, they receive of ne 
cessity a small salary from the missionary. Needless to say, it is 
almost a famine wage, but in general so great is the zeal of these 
native catechists that the work accomplished by them is of tre 
mendous and permanent value. There are, at present, some 1 13,000 
such missionary catechists and baptizers helping the Catholic cause 
in the mission field. 

Mention must also be made of a vigorous new movement of 
lay apostles to the missions. In Africa, in Asia, in Latin America, 
young laymen and laywomen are laboring on the frontiers of the 


Church. According to a recent report there are now twenty-one 
lay mission groups with some two thousand members working in 
seventy-five mission countries throughout the world. Some, like 
the Grail Movement and the Auxiliaires Feminines Internationales, 
are composed exclusively of women, while others like the Collegio 
Universitato Aspiranti Medici Missionari are made up of lay men. 
The society known as Ad Lucem of Paris has sent three hundred 
professional workers overseas; they include men, women and mar 
ried couples. The work of some of these groups is entirely in the 
medical field; others exercise a wide variety of professions and 
skills education, social work, journalism, agriculture, and the arts. 
The Medical Mission Institute of Wurzburg was established 
thirty years ago, while the Canadian "Groupe Ricci," founded in 
1952, is still preparing to send its first members overseas. 

Mission Organization 

More than thirty million Roman Catholics live in the vast areas 
of mission territory under the jurisdiction of the Sacred Con 
gregation of the Propagation of the Faith. 1 This territory com 
prises almost all of Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and 
Oceania, with the exception of the greater part of the Philippine 
Islands, as well as certain regions of Europe and America. Seventy- 
seven archdioceses, nearly 300 dioceses and more than 300 mis 
sionary districts depend on the Congregation of the Propaganda. 
Under its direction the Church in mission countries is divided 
into territorial circumscriptions of dioceses or quasi-dioceses ac 
cording to the greater or lesser development of Christianity in 
the area. Dioceses under the ordinary hierarchy have existed for 
some time in India, Japan, China and Australia, and more recently 
in several parts of Africa. In many areas these dioceses co-exist 
with quasi-dioceses. As elsewhere in the organization of the 
Church, dioceses are grouped into ecclesiastical provinces, formed 
of an archiepiscopal see and suffragan dioceses, to which certain 
vicariates and apostolic prefectures in the vicinity are united in 
order better to coordinate the mission work in a large zone. 

Apostolic prefectures and apostolic vicariates come under the 
heading of quasi-dioceses as do autonomous missions "sui jims" 
The autonomous missions exist in the least developed areas. When 
after some years of painstaking labor the first rudimentary or- 

1 See Ch. vn, "The Roman Congregations," pp. 108-13. 

The Mission Field 2 1 1 

ganization is formed, the number of Catholics is judged sufficient, 
and chapels and churches have been built, when charitable works 
and Catholic Action have been begun, the autonomous mission 
is erected into an apostolic prefecture. The apostolic prefecture 
continues to multiply its mission stations and to prepare the di 
vision of its territory into quasi-parishes. When vocations to the 
ecclesiastical and religious life begin to appear, a minor semi 
nary is opened, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions. 
After sufficient progress has been made, the apostolic prefecture 
becomes an apostolic vicariate, the last stage of development be 
fore the territory becomes a diocese. It should be added, however, 
that the above criteria are not absolute and that the passage from 
one form of mission organization to the other is left to the judg 
ment of the Propaganda which may make exceptions in view of 
the situation prevailing in the territory or among missionaries 
working in that field. 

In our day the missionary work of the Church is faced with 
new and difficult problems in various parts of the world. The 
first challenge comes, of course, from Communism. It was a tragic 
historic coincidence that just at the period when many colonial 
peoples attained their independence, a powerful ideology emerged 
in the East and exploited resentment, distrust and hatred for its 
own aims. Even where Communism has not taken over, local 
Communist propaganda has painted the missionary as a tool of 
foreign powers, and missionaries, Catholic and non-Catholic 
alike, have in many places been caught up in this situation. Despite 
personal self-sacrifice and years of labor, they have been identi 
fied with the colonialism of their own country, and in numerous in 
stances they have been expelled if they have not met an even 
worse fate. With the rising tide of nationalism, ironically sown by 
the missionaries themselves when they carried ideas of self-respect, 
independence and the vision of a better life to the people under 
their care, has come the revival of other religions. Islam especially 
is on the march, and in parts of Africa, for example, is making 
converts on the scale that Christianity finds hard to match. A 
third source of trouble for the Western missionary is the rising 
color consciousness of Asians and Africans, and as time runs out 
the wisdom of the establishment of the Church's native hierarchy 
has been demonstrated and remains as her main hope for the 
future. The f ollowing brief survey will show some aspects of the 


enormous task which confronts Catholic missionary endeavor in 
various parts of the globe. 2 


Asia, which occupies almost one-third of the land area of the 
globe, is inhabited by over one and a quarter billion souls. How 
vast is the work confronted by Catholic missionaries in India may 
be judged by the fact that this country with a population of 
over 381 million has only five and a half million Catholics or 
1.3% of the total population. Of these 85% are Hindu, and the 
remainder Moslems, Jains, Sikhs, Parsees and i% of Protestant 
Christians. For long the greatest obstacle to the conversion of 
India was the caste system; although the lower castes or the out 
casts were sometimes converted, the higher castes very rarely 
were. Since the new constitution has abolished the age-old stigma 
against the "untouchables," the Christians have gained in prestige. 
But as an obstacle to the apostolate the caste system has been re 
placed by an anti- Western attitude which has marked the new in 
dependent status of the nation. The pressure upon Goa, an Indo- 
Portuguese Christian community, to join the Indian Union, poses 
not only political problems but those that are deeply religious. In 
general the government of India has restricted the admission of 
new missionaries from the nations to those able to contribute to 
the material development of the country and for whom no Indian 
substitute can be found. Actually it is very difficult for new mis 
sionaries to obtain visas, and similar restrictions are being adopted 
in Burma and Indonesia. Still the native church is strongly en 
trenched, and its clergy is presided over by an Indian, His Emi 
nence Cardinal Gracias of Bombay; of the 63 bishops and archbish 
ops in India over two-thirds are natives of the country, whereas the 
priests are equally divided between Indians and foreigners. 

Pakistan was divided from India in 1945 on the basis of the 

2 World conditions make difficult the obtaining of reliable statistics on 
mission areas, and since 1950 with the publication of Le Missi&m Cattolicbe 
by the Fides Agency no full report has been published in Rome. The more 
recent statistics regarding CathoHc populations and percentages and total pop 
ulations of countries, given in the following pages, are based on CSMC World 
Mission Map, 1957 published by die Catholic Students Mission Crusade, 
U.SA., National (inter, Cincinnati, Ohio. Other information has been taken 
from the Aimuario Pontificio, 195*? and Perspectives sur le Monde by Abbe 
Adrien Bouifard, published in 1957 by FUnion Missionaire du Clerge, < 

The Mission Field 2 1 3 

Islamic faith of the majority of its population. About 86% are 
Moslems, and there are 500,000 Christians of whom 268,322 are 
Catholic. They are served by 324 priests and 782 religious, men 
and women, who have 377 schools with a student body of 63,462. 

Burma and Thailand are Buddhist countries. Pure Buddhists, 
however are rare. In general less closed to the Faith than Hindus 
or Mohammedans, conversions among them are not easy and 
political conditions make it more difficult for missionaries to reach 
them than ever before. The priests of the Foreign Missions of Paris 
are chief among those congregations working in Burma; there 
are also Columban Fathers, members of the Foreign Missions of 
Milan, missionaries of La Salette, Salesians and some secular clergy 
231 priests in all for a Catholic population of around 170,000. 
In Thailand there are 216 priests and a Catholic population of 

Indo-China at present consists of three "associated States": 
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Following the Geneva agreement 
of July 1954, Vietnam (consisting of the former states of Tonkin, 
Annam and Cochin China) was practically divided into two, and 
North Vietnam was turned over to the Communists. As we know, 
the Geneva agreement permitted the Vietnamese to live in the 
home of their choice and a period of about a year was agreed upon 
for such resettlements as the people wished to make. To the sur 
prise of the whole world, 800,000 persons, of whom about 80% 
were Catholic, left the "liberated" North to live in exile in the 
South. This was such a "loss of face" for the Communist regime 
that it reacted by causing all kinds of vexations and even violence 
without, however, stopping the flight from its territory. At Sai 
gon, in the South, this tremendous throng without food, without 
resources, without homes, without land, without work, created a 
formidable problem which has not as yet been completely solved. 

The "Resettlement Committee" which the government con 
fided to the direction of the Catholic Bishop Pham Ngoc Chi, has 
done marvelous work and has given courage to these uprooted 
people. The refugees immediately began to convert the jungle 
into ricefields and to build new villages. Whole parishes were 
transplanted from the north to the south and in these new settle 
ments the first building to be constructed was always the church, 
usually a bamboo replica of the one the people had been forced 
to abandon in the north. 


This Catholic exodus has so upset things that it is impossible to 
give accurate religious statistics for Vietnam. The following are 
approximate: North of the i;th parallel, the Communist territory 
now has about 11 million inhabitants while South Vietnam has 
over 13. Prior to the Geneva agreement the ten missions of the 
north had 1,100,000 Catholics while the five in the south had 
only 370,000. Now after the exodus, South Vietnam has more than 
a million Catholics while the Catholic population of North Vietnam 
is reduced to around 617,000. 

Laos and Cambodia, the other two Indo-Chinese States, are 
constitutional monarchies, since 1953 accorded full independ 
ence and sovereignty within the French Union. In 1957 the Cath 
olics in Laos numbered around 1 1,000 or .8% of the total popula 
tion and in Cambodia there are 47,594 Catholics or 1.1% of the 
whole. For the Catholics in these two countries there are only 
103 priests, native and foreign. 

It was around the year 1920 that the Marxist-Leninist ideology 
was first introduced into China by Russian agents and in the space 
of thirty years it succeeded in subjugating a half billion of men 
in a country torn by internal struggles and by invasion from Ja 
pan. The end of hostilities against Japan and the Russian occupa 
tion of Manchuria and North Korea enabled the Communist 
chiefs to carry on their revolutionary aims with the aid of Russian 
technicians, vast stores of abandoned Japanese armament and a 
well-trained army of two million soldiers. After a new civil war 
and the fall of Mukden, the People's Chinese Republic was pro 
claimed in 1949. 

Following the Second World War, China counted around four 
millions of Catholics and in 1949 had 20 archdioceses, 85 dioceses 
and 39 apostolic prefectures. There were 27 Chinese bishops, and 
foreign missionaries were to the number of 3,080 in addition to 
M57 native priests. The ordinary hierarchy had been set up in 
China since 1946 and every effort was being made to the end that 
it might one day become completely Chinese, while the mission 
aries did all in their power to respect the cultural, artistic and 
moral traditions of a great people. This task was confided to nu 
merous schools of every kind which flourished in China under 
the egis of the missionaries and the local clergy and especially in 
the three great Catholic Universities of Shanghai, Peking and 
Tientsien serving students of all faiths. 

The Mission Field 2 r 5 

Wherever they had gained control the attitude of the Com 
munists toward the Christian missions was always openly hostile, 
and between 1928 and 1934 the sovietized government of Hankow 
had burned churches, confiscated schools and charitable institu 
tions and subjected the missionaries to constant vexations where 
there were not assassinations or kidnappings with requirements of 
enormous ransoms. The Catholics were also persecuted between 
1936 and 1945 ' m the independent State of Yunan. However, the 
real struggle may be dated from the end of the war against the 

This struggle was characterized by methods placed in the 
hands of the Communists by the situation in a country where the 
awakening of national feeling offered them effective weapons for 
stirring up sentiment against the Church as "foreign," and for 
propaganda that confused the reaction abroad. The Government, 
professing to respect the religious liberty embodied in its con 
stitution, stated that the measures it undertook were made nec 
essary by the "spontaneous" reaction of the national conscience 
against Western imperialism disguised beneath the veil of religious 
propaganda. An attempt was then made to divide Catholicism. 
Once the foreign missionaries were expelled and the Chinese were 
left to themselves, preparations were made to set up an inde 
pendent Catholic Church in opposition to the Chinese Church 
that remained faithful to Rome. 

When, in 1954, the "Movement of the Three Autonomies," as 
the attempt to establish a national church was called, was con 
demned by Pius XII in his encyclical Ad Sinarum gentes, a new 
campaign of threats, arrests, condemnations and expulsions took 
place and many Chinese bishops were arrested and imprisoned. 
The national church gained few followers and a strong opposition 
was put up to these measures by the Catholics themselves, but 
little by little they were deprived of everything. All Catholic 
charitable works were destroyed; hundreds of schools at every 
level were confiscated; with one exception all the seminaries were 
closed. This was done without the passage of a single legislative 
bill, merely as the result of local administrative decisions and po 
lice operations supposedly carried on in the name of the people. 

At the end of 1955 almost all the foreign bishops and priests 
had been either imprisoned or expelled and of the 5,000 mission 
aries in China in 1945 bishops, priests, sisters and brothers in 


October, 1955, only 35 remained: 2 bishops, 18 priests and 15 
sisters. More than a hundred Chinese bishops and priests had died 
in prison, many more were incarcerated, others condemned to 
forced labor, and the few still at liberty were under constant 
surveillance. In the country districts the churches had been quietly 
and silently closed, but in a few large cities it was still possible 
for the faithful to assist at Mass. 

Since that time the Church has been driven further under 
ground and it is impossible to judge its status at present, but it ap 
pears that some three million faithful in China, under the guid 
ance of 25 Chinese bishops, have remained heroically steadfast. 
The clergy live here and there, working at whatever trade they 
can, say Mass for their scattered flock and administer the sacra 

In the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong where the popula 
tion increased after the war and the advance of Communism on 
the mainland from a half million to two millions and a half, 80,000 
Catholics are enjoying complete freedom and their schools are 
government aided. Missionaries expelled from China are devoting 
themselves more and more to the apostolate in the refugee camps 
of Hong Kong, and making preparations in the hope of a return 
to the Chinese mainland. 

Formosa in 1950 counted scarcely 13,000 Catholics; there are 
now some 80,000, due to the influx of the Chinese Nationalists 
and to an extraordinary convert movement among the aborigines 
in Kaoshiung where the Dominican Fathers are in charge of mis 
sionary work, in Hwalien under the Paris Foreign Mission So 
ciety, and in Taichung under the Maryknoll Fathers. 

Almost all missionary effort has ceased in Tibet, the strong 
hold of the Buddhist Lamas, today under Red Army control; in 
Sinkiang, or Chinese Turkestan, also Communist-controlled since 
1949; in the People's Republic of Mongolia; and in Manchuria 
seized by Japan in 1932 and returned to China in 1945 to share 
the religious fate of that country. On the eastern side of Man 
churia is the Yalu River, and from this point we reach Korea, the 
land of many trials. 

In Korea, Catholicism made considerable progress between the 
two world wars, and before the entrance of Japan into the con 
flict in 1941, 615 Catholic missionaries were working in Korea. 
When hostilities broke out after Pearl Harbor a number of Ameri- 

The Mission Field 2 1 7 

can Maryknoll missioners were repatriated, the Irish priest of St. 
Columban and the Canadian Franciscans interned, and the French 
clergy placed under police surveillance. During the war 70% of 
the remaining clergy were mobilized for obligatory labor and 30 
seminarians and a few priests were drafted as soldiers into the 
army. At the end of the war there were 182,000 Catholics in 
Korea with 39 foreign priests and 160 Koreans. 

As the result of the division of Korea into two zones at the 
Conference of Yalta, the political and ideological sovietization of 
the North was at once begun under the supervision of the Russian 
occupying authorities, and then carried on by the Communist 
North Koreans themselves. So complete were the measures taken 
that when North Korea invaded the South in June 1950, every 
priest residing north of the 38th parallel had been imprisoned or 
killed. The fifteen months of war that followed devastated the 
country, and with the flux and reflux of the Communist armies 
into South Korea the Church had much to suffer there as well. 
Arriving in Seoul, the Communists occupied all the churches and 
schools and the cathedral was turned into a barracks; the apostolic 
delegate, Bishop Patrick Byrne of Maryknoll, was arrested and 
dragged north to prison where he died. Little can be known of 
the present conditions of the 40,000 Catholics in North Korea, 
but since the South has regained its freedom as the result of UN 
and American intervention and the brave fight of the South Ko 
reans themselves, a great convert movement has taken place, which 
threatens to slow up only because there are not enough mission 
aries. There are at present more than 214,274 Catholics in South 
Korea in a total population of around 22 million, and 22,000 cat 
echumens are under instruction in preparation for baptism. Among 
the converts are a former vice president, Mr. Paul Kim, and a son 
of the last king, Prince Lee. 

In Japan Christianity has never regained the position it occu 
pied over three hundred years ago, when in 1600, after fifty years 
of labor, the mission founded by St. Francis Xavier counted more 
than three hundred thousand converts. All but a handful of these 
were wiped out in a fierce persecution and no missionaries were 
able to re-enter the country until the second half of the nineteenth 
century. The chief obstacles encountered in their work were the 
materialistic civilization imported from the Occident and readily 
adopted by the Japanese, and the cult of the State under Shinto 


in reality a national religion with the Emperor at its head. How 
ever, progress was made and a Japanese bishop was consecrated 
by Pope Pius XI in 1927, and in 1938 Peter Tatsua Doi became 
archbishop of Tokyo and head of the Church in Japan. The Holy 
See permitted Catholics to take part in the Shinto ritual as a pa 
triotic exercise; Japan exchanged diplomatic representatives with 
the Vatican, and before World War II, 2,000 converts were en 
tering the Church annually. 

The attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, brought Japan 
into the war and ended in her defeat and unconditional surrender 
after Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been destroyed by the first 
atomic bombs. During the Allied occupation, under General Mac- 
Arthur, Japan received economic and political guidance. Its new 
constitution, adopted in 1947, was based on the political institutions 
of the Western democracies; Shinto was dis-established as the 
State religion, and the Emperor renounced his claim to divinity. 

During the war, Catholics had been persecuted and foreign 
missionaries expelled or interned, but they were welcomed back 
under the Allied occupation. Since this time the Church has flour 
ished, and Catholics number roughly 230,000 in a population of 
90,000,000. Among the American missionaries (and there are those 
of other nationalities) at present working there under the direc 
tion of the Japanese bishops are Jesuits, Maryknollers, Franciscans, 
Columbans, Divine Word Missionaries, Passionists, Christian 
Brothers and the women Religious of the Sacred Heart. There are 
some 245 Catholic schools on every level with a body of 65,000 


The nearly 3,000 islands which make up the former Dutch 
colonies of Indonesia with their population of more than 80 mil 
lion were occupied by the Japanese during World War II and then 
by the Allies. Since then they have gained their independence 
from Holland and, with the exception of New Guinea, have been 
recognized since 1950 as the Republic of Indonesia, linked to the 
Netherlands only through a loose union under the Dutch crown. 
The population of these islands, peopled by the Malay race com 
ing from Asia and practicing since the thirteenth century a de 
generate form of Mohammedanism, is 80% Moslem; the balance 
are Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and over one million animists. 

The Mission Field 219 

The nineteen Catholic missions in the whole territory (according 
to the 1950 Propaganda report) contained in that year nearly 
800,000 faithful and 32,000 catechumens served by a native bishop; 
over 600 priests; over 400 brothers (of whom 80 were native), 
and more than 1,600 women religious (of whom around 350 were 
native). The number of Catholics has since grown to over a mil 
lion; their groups are strongest in the Lesser Sundras (Bali, Flores 
and parts of Timor). 

Prior to World War II, some sixteen communities of priests 
with an equal number of communities of sisters were at work in 
the Philippine Islands. These included the missionaries of Mary- 
knoll and Mill Hill, the Fathers of Scheut and of the Divine 
Word. In Manila, Santo Tornas, the oldest university under the 
American flag, was directed by the Dominican Fathers as was the 
College of San Juan; Jesuits had the Ateneo College, the Seminary 
of San Jose and Manila Observatory; the Vincentians had a dioc 
esan seminary. Nine colleges for women were conducted by sis 
ters, as were a normal school and several academies for girls. Six 
of the twelve bishops, 900 of the 1,400 priests and half of the 
2,000 sisters in the Island were Filipinos. But the war and Japanese 
occupation worked havoc to these religious bodies, and brought 
death to many priests including 100 foreign missionaries. 

Much reconstruction and rapid growth has taken place since 
the war ended, and today there are 21 dioceses and archdioceses 
in the Philippines and four mission territories under the Propa 
ganda. A total of 2,870 priests are working there to whose ranks 
will soon be added some 700 students in the seminaries; the Phil 
ippines have also given refuge to many students from China stud 
ying for the priesthood. There are seventeen millions of Catholics 
there today or 82% of the population. The Aglipay schismatics 
number some 1,500,000 and the Protestants ^4,000. Besides these 
there are 791,800 or more Musulmans and a million or so savages 
in the mountains of Luzon and Mindanao (animists and generally 

The Caroline and Marshall Islands, formerly on the route be 
tween America and the Philippines, are served today by the Amer 
ican, Jesuits. In the other Islands of the Pacific, French missionaries 
are in the majority the Picpus Fathers have vicariates in Tahiti 
and the Marquesas Islands with the prefecture of Cook. The 
Marist Fathers, coming in 1832, have today seven vicariates: Navi- 


gator, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, North and South 
Solomon, Wallis and Fortuna, with Maori missions in New Zea 
land. The largest missions for the Papuans are in New Guinea. 
Some of these islanders are pacific, others little touched by civili 
zation, but they are not inaccessible to the Gospel, and the Cath 
olic missionaries have gained great influence with them. 

Although the Church is well organized in Australia and New 
Zealand, these countries still remain on the rolls of the Propa 
ganda. There is considerable mission work to be done among the 
natives. The 140,000 Maoris in New Zealand are a fine race, the 
Catholic missions to them under the care of the Fathers of Mill 
Hill. The Australian aborigines are scattered among the desert 
parts of the Continent in the north and northwest. There are some 
75,000 of them, but the apostolate among them has yielded scant 
results. The Abbey of New Nursia, founded in 1867, by the 
Benedictine, counts seventeen parishes and some 2,155 souls. 

In the islands of the Indian Ocean the most important mission 
is Madagascar where the Jesuits, the Holy Ghost Fathers and the 
Canadian Fathers of Salette have accomplished much in recent 
years. A native clergy has been formed. The Seychelles Island, 
in the diocese of Port Victoria, an English colony, is almost en 
tirely Catholic; 33,953 faithful among 37,116 inhabitants. There 
the Swiss Capuchins minister to the spiritual needs of a mixed 
population of blacks, yellows and whites from every country. 
The Mauritius and Reunion Islands are under the care of the Holy 
Ghost Fathers by whom missions are established in these places 
for Malagash, Hindu and African immigrants. 

In the Hawaiian Islands there are today some 155,000 Cath 
olics for whom to provide. The archipelago was discovered in 
1778, and Catholicism was introduced in 1819, when a naval chap- 
Iain baptized two of the principal personages among the natives. 
The heroic work of Father Damian among the lepers is one of the 
finest pages in the annals of mission history. The Picpus Fathers 
who pioneered there are now joined by Maryknoll, Marist and 
Sulpician priests and seven communities of Sisters. 


It is in Africa with its over 218,000,000 souls that Catholicism 
has made its greatest mission expansion in the last fifty years. 
When Catholic missionary work there was taken up in earnest in 

The Mission Field 221 

the nineteenth century, Islamism and fetichism reigned; Islamism 
established in the north and northeast among the populations of 
the white race (Arabs, Berbers) ; fetichism in the south among the 
Negro races (tribes of the Sudan, Kafirs, Bantus, etc.) while on 
the frontiers of these peoples and religions, there were infiltrations 
more or less considerable of fetichism among the Musulmans, and 
especially of Islamism among the blacks. 

These general conditions still obtain, but most African terri 
tories have in recent years gone through a social, economic and 
political revolution that has changed their courses in various ways 
and continues to change them. Not only have Christian mission 
aries made headway, but atheistic materialism is spreading and 
making use of racial differences to sow discord and cause trouble. 
While it is true that in most of Africa there are no organized Com 
munist parties, the influence of Communism is being felt as the 
result of the activities of individuals, for the most part students 
who have been overseas. The rapid spread of Islamism is also 
causing concern. It is said that for every convert to Christianity, 
Islam makes ten; its attraction lies in the simplicity of its demands, 
combined with its prestige as a world religion, and also in the fact 
that it is a social system as well as a religion a system that gives 
its followers a feeling of equality with believers in other parts of 
the continent. 

At present there are in rough figures about 85 million Moslem 
Africans, and 84 million pagans and animists, as contrasted with 
38 million Christians. Of these some 9 million are Protestant, 8 
million Eastern Orthodox (mainly in Ethiopia and Egypt) and 
21 million Roman Catholics. The Protestants are most active be 
low the Sahara with some 4,500 missionaries in this part of the 

The greatest numbers of converts to Catholicism have been 
made in the Belgian Congo, Urandi and Ruanda, as well as in Cen 
tral Africa and Uganda. In these countries even in the remote 
bush the travelers will find on lonely roads Catholic schools, hos 
pitals, mission centers and shrines. In Urandi, Catholics constitute 
49% of the total population, and here the Pope has been forced to 
ask the missionaries to slow up baptisms in order not to repeat the 
dilemma of the priestless areas in Latin America and the Phil 

Indeed, the chief problem confronting the Catholic Church in 


Africa is the insufficient number of priests who must not only 
teach the truths of the Faith but place before the Africans the 
ideal of a Christian social order to guide them in the midst of the 
present ferment in economic and political development. In propor 
tion to the rapidly growing number of Catholics the number of 
priests is, in fact, declining. It will suffice to note that in Asia, in 
one year (1954), parallel with an increase of 240,000 Catholics 
there was an increase of 677 priests while in Africa the Catholic 
increase of 831,000 in the same period of time was accompanied 
by an increase of only 488 priests. At the present more than 10,000 
priests are laboring in Africa, aided by 21,000 religious, sisters and 
brothers. Of the priests about one in ten is native, and the religious 
one in four. An important addition to these is the army of some 
70,000 native catechists without whose aid the task of the mis 
sionaries would be difficult if not impossible. 

The generosity of missionaries from other lands in offering 
themselves for the African missions will decide the future of the 
Church on this continent, and an encyclical of Pius XII on the 
Church in Africa (Easter, 1956) calls urgently for the immediate 
cooperation of Catholics throughout the w r orld and for prayer, 
vocations and material assistance from hierarchy, clergy and laity 

Europe and America 

In addition to the areas indicated above we must not forget 
that there are still in Europe a few countries, in addition to the 
Balkans, which are regarded as mission territories. Still under the 
jurisdiction of the Congregation of the Propaganda are Denmark, 
Norway, Sweden, Finland and Gibraltar. There are also many 
parts of South and Central America and of North America where 
mission work is carried on, among Indians, Negroes and Eskimos. 

The establishment of dioceses practically everywhere in the 
United States has not put an end to pioneer work among the In 
dians and Negroes within the country and the natives of its de 
pendencies. The Church is still facing missionary conditions in 
the south and west. Only a small proportion of the more than 
fifteen million Negroes in this country belong to the Catholic 
Church less than 550,000 while of the present Indian population 
of around 345,000, approximately 117,000 are Catholic. Among 
the organizations for the support of these missions are the Society 

The Mission Field 223 

for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, 
as well as the following specifically American organizations: Cath 
olic Church Extension Society, the Commission for Catholic Mis 
sions among the Indians and Negroes, the Bureau of Catholic 
Indian Missions, the Marquette League for Catholic Indian Mis 
sions. The American Board of Catholic Missions and the Te- 
kakwitha Catholic Indian Missionary Conference are also con 
cerned with Indian affairs. No survey of mission work among 
Indians and Negroes is complete without mention of the work of 
Mother Katherine Drexel who, in 1 889, founded the Congregation 
of the Blessed Sacrament, an order of Sisters for mission work 
among these races. 

At present more than 700 priests are working among the Ne 
groes, over i, 800 nuns and 600 lay teachers. Most of these are 
located in the Southern States where more than ten million Ne 
groes live. Outside the South, the Negro populations are widely 
scattered and are steadily increasing. There are 323 Catholic 
schools for Negroes, an increase of 50% over twenty years ago, 
and these are educating some 80,000 pupils. 

The Indian mission centers count a total of 408 churches and 
chapels. The workers among them consist of about two hundred 
priests, and some 700 Sisters, brothers and lay teachers. Around 
57 mission schools are attended by over 8,000 children and some 
thirty government schools are visited by priests. 

In Alaska, Roman Catholics at present number over 22,000, of 
whom about 4,000 are natives. This vast territory of 1500 miles 
from east to west and five hundred miles from north to south is 
at present cared for by American Jesuits, aided by four com 
munities of American sisters. 

Canada and Newfoundland are today 43% Catholic In popula 
tion, but a vast expanse to the north is still mission land. Canada 
has a population of over 165,000 Indians and Eskimos chiefly 
under the care of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. 

In Latin America, colonized from Spain and Portugal, the 
majority of the inhabitants are at least Catholic in their traditions, 
but anti-clericalism, Masonry and Protestantism have made inroads 
in many countries and in others spiritism, occultism and superstiti- 
tion are far from dead. There are threats from Communism in 
Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico. Everywhere are remote and 
sparsely settled territories where Indians and peons must be given 


missionary care. Even in established dioceses there is so severe a 
shortage of clergy for a rapidly expanding population, that they 
are missionary in the sense that they must count on foreign lands 
for their personnel and sustenance. 

In fact the shortage of clergy in Latin America is one of the 
most pressing problems facing the Church today. For 153 millions 
of baptized Catholics, or 91% of the total population, there are 
but 34,000 priests, or one for each 4,500 souls. In such countries as 
Guatemala and Santo Domingo there is one priest for each 1 3,000; 
while in still others, such as Haiti, Cuba, Salvador, Porto Rico, the 
proportion is one priest for each 5,000 Catholics. It is estimated 
that at least 40,000 more priests are urgently needed for this part 
of the world. 

Only a few highlights have been mentioned, but from the fore 
going we may see that the Church is faced by missionary prob 
lems as urgent today as they were nineteen hundred years ago. It 
is confronted by the fact that there are more than two billion men 
who do not know the Catholic faith, and that even to occupy in 
the twenty-first century the same numerical place that they hold 
today, Catholics must double their numbers. Despite all that the 
many years of missionary labors have accomplished, the Church 
must face its losses to Communism and materialism, not only in 
pagan lands but in countries formerly regarded as Catholic. One 
hundred and sixty-six of the diocesan and ecclesiastical divisions 
under the jurisdiction of the Congregation of the Propaganda are 
today under Communist control. In addition Protestants of every 
denomination are more active than ever before in many corners 
of the world, their zeal and dedication setting a high standard of 
missionary action. In Africa and Ask the shadow of Moham 
medanism becomes longer day by day. 

The Church must take into account, too, a growing syncretism, 
namely the concept, even among spiritual-minded men, that there 
is a universal religion which will transcend particular religions. 
While recognizing that there is a part of truth in such great re 
ligions as Judaism, Buddhism and Mohammedism, and that the 
philosophy, art and liturgy of Christianity have been greatly en 
riched by contact with these worlds, the Church denies the truth 
of syncretism and regards itself as bound to teach that Catholicism 
is the only true religion of all men. Despite every loss, every block, 

The Mission Field 225 

placed in the way of the missionary enterprise, the Church will 
continue to disregard all barriers and to make every sacrifice for 
a cause which it regards as based on Christ's direct command: 
"Go, therefore, teach all nations." 


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PREEMINENTLY DIFFICULT among the greater problems 
faced by the Catholic Church is the separation which has existed 
since the later middle ages between it and the great mass of Chris 
tians of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Were it not for the small 
minority of Christians of various Eastern rites who acknowledge 
the Pope of Rome as Supreme Pontiff as well as Western Patriarch, 
the Catholic Church's claim to universality would appear to be ma 
terially compromised. (Especially is this true today in view of the 
fact that since this book was first written two-thirds of the nine 
million Eastern Catholics have, in nations under Communist con 
trol, been forcibly aggregated to the dissident Orthodox churches 
under State domination in the countries concerned.) There is noth 
ing whatever anamolous about these tiny groups of Eastern Cath 
olics among the four hundred and eighty or so million Catholics of 
the Western Church; historically the Church is a product of the 
East as much as, perhaps more than, of the West, and the existence 
of these groups preserves the material proof of the universality of 
the Catholic Church and powerfully supports the fact that the 
primacy of Peter is far more than simply a patriarchal right over 
one part of the Church. 

These Eastern Catholics (sometimes called "Uniates," a name 
given them by their opponents) are most conveniently divided 
according to the rites of worship which they use, in every case 
except one corresponding to that used by one of the dissident 
Eastern Churches; in Catholic faith and morals and in conscious 
communion with Rome they are one. These Catholics then, di- 


vided into five general groups according to the rites which they 
follow, are: i ) of the Antiochene or West Syrian rite, followed by 
Syrians, Maronites and Malankarese; 2) of the Alexandrian rite, 
followed by Copts and Ethiopians; 3) of the Byzantine or Con- 
stantinopolitan rite, followed by Albanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, 
Italo-Greek or Italo-Albanians, Yugoslavs, Melkites, Romanians, 
Russians, a few Hungarians, and the Ruthenians, i.e., Ukrainians of 
Galicia, Rusins of Subcarpathia, and others scattered throughout 
the world; 4) of the Chaldean or East Syrian rite, followed by the 
Chaldeans and Malabarese; 5) of the Armenian rite. 

All these Catholics differ from those of the Western Church in 
their customs, discipline and liturgy principally in the various 
forms and languages in which they celebrate the Mass. In contrast 
to the practically universal use of Latin by the Western Church, 
Eastern rites are carried out in various languages, some dead (as 
Coptic and Ge'ez), some in older forms of languages still spoken 
(as Armenian), others in the vernacular (as Romanian and Ara 
bic). Among the principal customs remarked among them and not 
common to the Western Church are: the permissibility of mar 
riage of priests before ordination (about half of the secular clergy 
are married); Communion in both forms (bread and wine); the 
conferring of Confirmation by the priest immediately after Bap 
tism, which is by immersion; the use of leavened altar bread. 

These rites and customs are of equal authenticity and dignity 
with those of the West, and the Catholics who use them are de 
scendants of the flocks of the great Fathers of the Church, of St. 
Athanasius, of the Cyrils and the Gregories, of St. John Chrys- 
ostom, of St. Ephraem, none of whom celebrated the Roman Mass 
or prayed in Latin. "They are as fully and completely Catholics 
as those of the West. They keep their own liturgies, canon law 
and customs not by concession but by right, as Latins hold theirs. 
... in faith, morals and obedience to the Holy See there is no 
difference, nor are they 'half-way houses' between the Latin and 
dissident Eastern Churches." As Pope Benedict XV further de 
clared: "The Church of Christ is neither Latin nor Greek, nor 
Slavonic, but Catholic, and all her children are equal in her sight." 

In order to gain a general idea of the present composition of 
Catholic churches of Eastern rite, we must examine briefly the 
main facts of the whole problem of the Christian East. For, with 
the exception of the Byzantine Greeks in Italy and the Maronites, 

The Eastern Churches 2 29 

each Catholic Eastern Church has been formed by some members 
from one or another of the dissident Churches returning to Rome; 
their organization is comparatively late, dating in most cases from 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (Catholics in Asia or Af 
rica converted from paganism by Western missionaries are not 
considered here, belonging as they mostly do to the Latin rite.) 
Moreover, these Churches are not organized in one body, but 
according to the liturgical rite of the corresponding dissident 
Church and to other considerations. 

Without exception, the separated or dissident Churches of the 
East were once parts of the One Church, in communion with the 
center of unity at Rome. Separated at various times by schism or 
heresy, they continue to profess the Catholic faith almost in its 
entirety. Although they deny the authority of the Holy See, and 
sometimes profess other errors, they all teach the Real Presence, 
the Eucharistic Sacrifice (the Mass), confession, veneration of our 
Lady and the other saints, prayers for the dead, and other doc 
trines and practices that are usually regarded as distinctively and 
especially Catholic. Their canon law is essentially the same as that 
of the Eastern Catholics, and their liturgies and rites are recog 
nized and respected by Rome as deriving from the earliest days 
of Christianity. All (with the doubtful exception of the Copts and 
Ethiopians) have valid orders and sacraments, and Catholics may 
resort to these in the exceptional circumstances laid down in canon 
law and in special provisions of the Holy See. In their relation to 
the Church of Rome the Orthodox and other dissident Easterners 
are not, as is often assumed, on a common footing with the Prot 
estant Churches which have broken away from the Western pa 
triarchate. They have, on the contrary, maintained organic con 
tinuity with Churches that once were in communion with Rome, 
and they "represent the authentic Catholic Christianity of the East 
of the first ten centuries, modified by the history of the subse 
quent ages during which they have been separated from, and in 
varying measures opposed to, the theological developments and 
religious life of the Catholic Church." * 

How did these divisions come about? First, there were two 
great schisms having their origins in the Christological contro- 

1 Donald Attwater, Christian Churches of the East (Milwaukee, 1948), 
vol. n, p. 2. In this and its accompanying volume (1047) all these matters are 
dealt with at greater length. 


versles of the fifth century. Nestorianism (which taught rightly 
that there were two natures in Christ, but wrongly that there 
were two distinct persons as w r ell, the human and the divine) was 
condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and gave rise to the 
Nestorian Church (and so, it is claimed, to the original Malabar 
Christians, although the present Malabar Catholics deny that their 
ancestors were ever Nestorian). The second heresy, Monophy- 
sitism (teaching the opposite error, that Christ has but one nature 
and that divine), was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon 
in 451, but was adhered to by the Egyptians (Copts), the Ethi 
opians, the Jacobite 2 Syrians and the Armenians. 

However the main body of the Eastern Christians remained 
for six centuries and more after the Council of Chalcedon in com 
munion with Rome, orthodox Christianity then having five prin 
cipal sees: those of the Patriarch and Pope of Rome in the West 
and the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and 
Jerusalem. But during these centuries there were disagreements 
between Rome and the leading Eastern see, Constantinople, that 
were sometimes very serious, especially in the time of the patriarch 
Photius (ninth century). A crisis was reached in 1054, when the 
legates of Pope St. Leo IX excommunicated the patriarch Ceru- 
larius; and in 1204 the enormities of the Fourth Crusade finally 
alienated the East completely. 

The clergy and people of the patriarchate of Constantinople 
were not and have never been excommunicated by the Holy See. 
They, themselves, separated from Rome and their example was 
followed by the other Eastern patriarchates, thus forming what is 
known as the Orthodox Eastern Church which is by far the larg 
est and most important of the non-Catholic Eastern Churches. 
The division of Christians in the East from those in the West was 
thus complete, and although they were reunited for two brief 
periods once at the Council of Lyons in 1774 and again at Flor 
ence in 1439 the union was ephemeral. In both cases it was 
brought about largely through political considerations and was 
not really wanted by most of the Easterners, while most Catholics 
of the West were not interested. 

2 So called after the monk Jacob Baradai, who established in the sixth 
century a Syrian hierarchy of bishops and priests independent of the sees of 
Rome and Byzantium. 

The Eastern Churches 231 

Nevertheless, several attempts were made by various groups of 
Easterners to reestablish relations with the Holy See, and begin 
ning in the sixteenth century some sizable bodies returned to their 
allegiance to Rome. Although these Catholics of the Eastern rites 
are usually greatly inferior in numbers to their dissident counter 
parts, yet they form, as had been said, a very important part of 
the Catholic economy, their position showing the conditions on 
which reunion between the Christianity of the East and West is 
possible. Their state has fluctuated considerably, for, like all Chris 
tians of the East, they follow and are submissive to their eccle 
siastical leaders to a degree that is scarcely possible in the West, 
Consequently, if Eastern bishops secede from Rome or fall into 
heresy, they generally carry the people with them. Moreover, 
national conditions in many countries, especially since the rise of 
Communism, have led to the decimation and wide dispersal of 
Catholics of the Eastern rites, and great changes in the status of 
their bishops. Although many points are at present obscure with 
regard to the churches behind the Iron Curtain, we shall endeavor 
briefly to describe the Catholics of the Eastern rites as they exist 

i. Catholics of the Antiochene or West Syrian Rite 

The West Syrian rite is based upon the primitive liturgy of 
the church of Antioch with modifications made throughout the 
ages. After having at first used the Greek language, at least in 
those cities which had been completely hellenized, it adopted the 
Syrian language of the people. Syriac, with the western pronunci 
ation and characters, is still used today in celebrating Mass, for the 
recitation of the Office and the administration of the sacraments, 
but some Arabic has been widely introduced in Syria. 

The first division of this rite, the Church commonly called the 
Catholic Syrian, is an offshoot of the dissident Jacobite (Monophy- 
site) Church, of which a group at Aleppo returned to unity with 
Rome in 1656. They met with long persecution and failure, but 
in 1783 the archbishop of Aleppo, Michael Jarweh, was confirmed 
by Rome as Syrian patriarch of Antioch. 3 He had much to suffer 
both from dissidents and Moslems and was forced to take refuge 

3 There are three Catholic patriarchs of Antioch (Melkite, Syrian, Maro- 
nite) and two dissident (Orthodox, Jacobite) ; none of them Hve at Andbch. 


n various places, but at the time of his death, in 1801, the number 
)f Catholics had increased, and the Catholic Syrian Church was 
reconstituted. Further conversions to Rome of a number of Jaco- 
Dite bishops, their priests and people, took place in the nineteenth 
md twentieth centuries. Although this Church suffered much 
from the Turks during World War I, it now has a patriarchal 
diocese, and seven other sees and two patriarchal vicariates in the 
Near East. The Syrian Catholics are about 80,000 in Syria and 
Iraq; 5,000 in the United States, and 10,000 scattered in other 
countries (France, Canada, South America, Australia). These Cath 
olic Syrians are not to be confused with the Maronites or with 
the Catholic Melkites, who also live in Syria, or with the East 
Syrian (Chaldean) Catholics in Iraq. 

The second division of the Catholics of the Anriochene rite 
are the Maronites, the only Eastern Catholics without any dissident 
counterpart. Their liturgical languages are Syriac and Arabic. Al 
though the history of the Maronite nation and Church is obscure, 
they have formed since the Arab conquest a completely organized 
Church under its own head, now known as the Maronite Patriarch 
of Antioch. Their name is derived from Bait-Marun, a monastery 
founded at the shrine of St. Maro, near Horns, Libya. The present 
canon law of the Maronites was drawn up at the national council 
held in 1736 at the monastery of Our Lady of the Almond Trees 
in the Lebanon; they have a patriarchal and nine other sees, and 
a vicariate. 

The Maronite country itself is now part of the republic of 
Lebanon, where the Maronite population is about 377,000. They 
are intensely loyal to the Holy See, claiming that throughout their 
long history they have never wavered in allegiance to Rome. They 
have a college for their secular clergy in Rome, and there are 
many Maronite monks and nuns. Married men may receive Holy 
Orders. It is said that there are 125,000 Maronites in the United 
States; here they are subject to the local bishops, but the Latin 
Ordinary must administer Maronite canon law in regard to them. 
There were some great Maronite scholars, e.g., the Assemani. The 
three Massabki brothers, all laymen, martyred by the Moslems in 
1860, were beatified in 1926 by Pius XI. 

The Malankarese, or Catholics of the West Syrian rite of Mal 
abar in India (as distinguished from their compatriots the Malabar 

The Eastern Churches 233 

Catholics of the Chaldean rite), are an offshoot of the Indian 
Jacobite dissidents. Their attempts at reunion date back to the 
eighteenth century, but bore little fruit until 1930 when Mar 
Ivanios, a bishop of the Malabar Jacobites, led his flock into the 
Catholic Church. The Holy See set up for these Catholics a hier 
archy of one archbishop and one bishop, and they of course re 
tained their proper liturgical rite, whose language is largely Malaya- 
lam, the people's spoken tongue; Syriac is but little used. Since 
that time this group has much increased and in 1956 numbered 
some 80,000 souls. 

2. Catholics of the Alexandrian or Coptic Rite 

The Coptic rite is particular to Egypt where it first took form. 
It spread into Ethiopia through missionaries who evangelized that 
country, but there it adopted another language and other impor 
tant modifications. The great majority of Copts and Ethiopians 
are Monophysite dissidents; only small fractions detached from 
them in recent centuries constitute the present Catholic Churches 
of Alexandrian rite. These groups are: 

The Catholic Copts of today, who date from the seventeenth 
century when Rome sent Capuchins and other Franciscans to 
labor among them. For a long time these missioners exercised their 
ministry with little success, and it was not until 1739 that a Coptic 
bishop was placed at the head of the little Catholic community 
they had formed. Since then Western missioners and Coptic priests 
have worked for the same end. The number of Catholic Copts has 
increased considerably in recent years, and they now number about 
70,000 souls, practically all in Egypt, under their Patriarch of 
Alexandria and three other bishops. Coptic (i.e., Egyptian) is a 
dead language; all speak Arabic and this vernacular is in increasing 
use for public worship. 

The Catholic Ethiopians form a small minority among the 
Monophysite Christians of their country. Their rite is derived 
from the Coptic, as has been said, but it is celebrated in Ge'ez, 
another dead language, related to the present Amharic. The Ethi 
opian-rite missal, Divine Office and ordinal have recently been re 
printed in Rome, and a new ritual is in preparation. In 1919, Pope 
Benedict XV founded the Pontifical Ethiopian College in Rome 
and placed Capuchin Franciscans in charge of it. The Catholic 


Ethiopians now number around 60,000 faithful, in two exarchates 
set up in 1951: one at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and the other at 
Asmara in Eritrea. 

5. Catholics of the Byzantine Rite 

The Byzantine Catholics, having the ancient rites and customs 
of Constantinople (Byzantium), correspond to the dissident Or 
thodox Eastern Church. They are called "Byzantine Catholics" 
because they are Byzantine (or "Greek") in rite and Catholic in 
religion; the Orthodox never calling themselves Catholics, except 
sometimes, with qualifications, in the United States. They repre 
sent a number of groups which, with one exception, have returned 
to Rome from separation, in different countries and at different 
times. Their common bond, besides union with the Catholic 
Church and her Supreme Pontiff and all that that implies, is the 
use of the Byzantine rite and customs, though in different lan 
guages and with occasional modifications. They are i ) the Greek 
Catholics properly so called, in Greece and Turkey, using Greek 
in the liturgy; 2) the Italo-Greeks in Italy and Sicily, also using 
Greek; 3) the Melkites in Syria and Egypt, subject to the Melkite 
Patriarch of Antioch, using Arabic in the liturgy; 4) the Ruthe- 
nians of Galicia and Rusins of Subcarpathia (many now scattered 
throughout Europe and America), who use Old, or Church, Sla 
vonic; 5) the Bulgarian Catholics, also using Slavonic; 6) the 
Romanian Catholics from Transylvania, using their own language 
in the liturgy; 7) the Hungarian-"Greek" Catholics using Hun 
garian; 8) the Russian Catholics, using Old Slavonic; and 9) the 
Yugoslav Catholics, using the same. There were other minor 
groups of the Byzantine rite in Georgia, Albania and the Baltic 
countries, but their numbers were so small as to be negligible, 
while events since the war have made their fate uncertain. There 
is a church of the Byzantine rite in Finland with a priest and a few 
faithful; Finnish is the language of their liturgy. 

Byzantine Catholics before World War II totaled over three- 
quarters of all Catholics of Eastern rites, with three fully organ 
ized hierarchies (Melkite, Ukrainian, Romanian). Today there are 
left one Byzantine patriarch and about twenty-four governing 
archbishops and bishops in occupation of their sees. Of these, two 
archbishops and five bishops are in charge of over a million faith 
ful in North America. 

The Eastern Churches 235 

No other religious body, including Catholics of the Latin rite, 
has been so ferociously persecuted as the Byzantine Catholics in 
the Communist-dominated countries. This fact has historical as 
well as "ideological" explanations. The Russians always considered 
Byzantine Catholics as a threat to the dissident Orthodox Churches, 
fearing that contact between the two might sooner or later effect 
a union with Rome. The Tsarist regime itself regarded these 
Byzantine Catholics with strong disfavor. After the Communist 
rise to power and a long persecution of all religions, the Bolshevist 
government accorded a certain alleged freedom of activity to the 
Russian Orthodox Church, but the price of it was total submission 
to the Kremlin in political matters. Immediately after the end of 
World War II, the Moscow government started to use the Ortho 
dox hierarchy for its own political aims, sending members of it 
abroad to carry out "good-will" missions on behalf of the half- 
enslaved Russian Orthodox Church; these were actually missions 
on behalf of the Communist government. After the occupation 
of Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, the 
history of the Orthodox national Churches in those lands was the 
same as that of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

On the other hand the fate of the Eastern Catholics in union 
with Rome was sealed in view of the aims of Moscow. For these 
aims it made use of the Orthodox churches. The Byzantine Cath 
olics simply had to disappear, and in fact their visible organization 
has been wiped out almost everywhere in Communist-controlled 
countries. The bishops of the Byzantine Catholic Churches in 
Romania, Yugoslavia, Subcarpathia, Poland, etc. were called upon 
to unite with the Orthodox. When they refused, the Soviet gov 
ernment maneuvered to organize councils of Byzantines, Catholic 
and dissident, in which Catholics were represented by a few apos 
tate or intimidated priests. These councils declared the "return" 
of the Catholics into the Orthodox Church. Since the Soviet gov 
ernment and the Communist governments in Central and Eastern 
Europe recognized this "union," the Byzantine Catholics lost their 
legal status and all their belongings, including church buildings, 
which were confiscated and handed over to the Orthodox subject 
to the Moscow patriarch. The Byzantine Catholic bishops of the 
Western Ukraine, Romania and Czechoslovakia were arrested 
without exception. Some of them were killed. In Communist-held 
Europe, only the Hungarian Byzantine Catholics have been al- 


lowed to continue to exist and their bishop to function. The rea 
son for this exception 4 is unknown, but it might be found in a 
secret hope of the Communists to penetrate the Hungarian Church 
of Latin rite through the intimidated and frightened Byzantine- 
rite Catholics of the nation. It is interesting to note that the Hun 
garian Communist government allowed only the Byzantine Cath 
olic bishop to visit Cardinal Mindszenty in his prison, hoping that 
this prelate would influence the Cardinal. It seems certain that the 
bishop made no attempt to lend himself to this purpose. 

4. Catholics of the Chaldean or East Syrian Rite 

The Christians following the Chaldean rite belong to two dis 
tinct groups. The first live principally in Iraq and are the remains 
of the ancient church of Mesopotamia and Persia. The second 
group is made up of Indians on the coast of Malabar in part con 
verted to Christianity by missionaries from Mesopotamia. The 
liturgical language of both groups is Syriac, with the Eastern 
pronunciation and characters. 

The Catholic Chaldeans are descendants of Nestorians who re 
turned under their patriarch John Sulaqa to the Catholic Church 
in the sixteenth century. Their present patriarch, called "of Bab 
ylon," lives at Mosul in Iraq. Their ways are very similar to those 
of the Nestorians ("Assyrians"), from whom they have had many 
converts, so that the Catholics now outnumber the dissidents of 
this rite. At present the Catholic Chaldeans number around 1 16,000 
souls in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt Others have emi 
grated to various places and there are about 1,500 in the United 
States, principally in Detroit and Chicago. 

The Malabar Catholics of the Chaldean rite (known with 
others, as "the Christians of St. Thomas") number over one mil 
lion and are to be found in the states of Cochin and Travancore 
on the Malabar coast, the southern part of the west coast of India. 
They have been certainly Catholic since the end of the sixteenth 
century, and their ecclesiastical center is the city of Ernakulam. 
One archdiocese and six dioceses are governed by bishops of their 
own race and rite. Their liturgical language is Syriac; they them 
selves speak Malayalam. 

4 It would appear that the Byzantine Catholic bishop of Krizevci in Yugo 
slavia is another exception. 

The Eastern Churches 237 

y. Catholics of the Armenian Rite 

The Armenians not in communion with the Holy See claim 
that St. Gregory the Illuminator founded in the third century the 
absolutely independent Armenian Church to which they belong; 
actually St. Gregory remained always in union with the universal 
Church, but the title "Gregorian Armenians" is sometimes used to 
describe the descendants of those who rejected the Council of 
Chalcedon in the second half of the fifty century. At first their 
liturgy was in Greek in the neighborhood of Cappadocia and 
Syrian in the south, but as the Armenian language developed a 
separate liturgy was evolved in that tongue. 

In the twelfth century there was a considerable reunion of 
Armenians with Rome; but the few Armenian Catholics were un 
organized and without a head from 1373 until 1740, when Abra 
ham Artzivian was appointed patriarch of Cilicia as Peter I, with 
residence alternately in Syria and Constantinople and with juris 
diction also over the Catholics of his rite in Palestine and Egypt. 
Difficulties over jurisdiction of the large group of Armenian 
Catholics in Turkey occurred, and were regulated in 1 867 by the 
bull Reversurus of Pius IX. In the period between 1915 and 1920, 
the Catholics suffered equally with the dissident Armenians in the 
Turkish massacres, losing ten bishops, one hundred thirty priests, 
over a hundred nuns and thousands of lay people. The seat of the 
Patriarch of Cicilia was fixed at Beirut in 1928. 

Today Armenian Catholics are dispersed throughout the 
world. The patriarchate of Cilicia counts some 60,000 souls in 
Syria, Iran, Turkey and Egypt. The Armenian Catholics of the 
archdiocese of Lvov in GaEcia have been decimated by the Com 
munist persecution: in 1946 the Russians closed all their churches, 
the administrator of the diocese was deported to Siberia, and 
priests and people hunted down by the police. Of the earlier fate 
of the Catholic Armenians in the Armenian S.S.R. little is known. 
Among those scattered about the world, there are some 2,500 in 
the United States; Brazil and the Argentine have prosperous col 
onies of them; there are a number in the cities of Western Europe, 
especially France, where they attend Latin churches when there 
are not priests of their own rite; there are also about 3,000 in 
Greece. Any exact figures are difficult to verify, but one estimate 


is 180,000 Catholic Armenians, governed by a patriarch, two arch 
bishops, two bishops, four patriarchal vicars and an exarch of their 
rite, and otherwise by the local bishops of the Latin rite. Thus, 
despite all their difficulties in various places, they would seem to 
have added to their number since 1914, which was then placed at 

Reunion of the Dissident Churches 

The problem of rapprochement between Catholics and Eastern 
dissidents is ever more acute and more immediate because of the 
political upheavals that followed the Russian Revolution and the 
two world wars. Several million members of the Orthodox and 
other separated Eastern Churches have emigrated to Western Eu 
rope and the two Americas; daily contact between Catholics and 
dissidents calls for charity and understanding. Indeed, the need 
felt by all the Christians of the earth to realize the unity that 
Christ wills and that all must long for, to understand each other 
and to present a united front to the increasing power of material 
ism and godless philosophies, is stronger than ever. Both in the 
Catholic and the Orthodox Churches there are many signs of a 
common sorrow that for so long both have been deprived of one 
another's special contributions to theology, philosophy, general 
culture and Christian living, and of a desire to seek reconciliation. 

From the Catholic side many efforts have been made to en 
courage the movement through organized groups and by indi 
viduals. The Church has done much to prove to the dissidents 
that, if they reunite with Rome, they are not called upon to re 
nounce the religious customs of their ancestors or to become 
"latinized." That they are has been constantly refuted by the 
Popes and by the actual constitutions of various Catholic churches 
of Eastern rite. The Church has made serious efforts to organize 
the Eastern Catholic bodies with their own hierarchies and to 
formulate their canon law, and it has devoted great religious and 
charitable care to their emigrants and refugees. 

In addition, for years past members of various religious orders 
and congregations of the Western Church have dedicated their 
lives to the people of the East and have founded and conducted 
seminaries for the training of priests of the various rites. The 
Jesuits, for instance, have a seminary in Beirut, founded in 1846, 
which has trained more than three hundred priests, thirty bishops 

The Eastern Churches 239 

and several patriarchs of the Armenian, Chaldean, Coptic, Maro- 
nite, Melkite and Syrian Churches. Moreover, in order to work 
more directly for the reconciliation of dissidents, many Western 
missionaries have themselves adopted an Eastern rite. Assump- 
tionist priests have passed to the Byzantine rite in Romania and 
other countries. Numerous Redemptorists have done the same in 
order to aid the Ukrainian and Ruthenian clergy in Europe and 
America; similar steps have been taken by the Oblates of Mary 
Immaculate in Canada, and by Franciscans, Benedictines, Jesuits 
and others in the United States and elsewhere. 

The chief part in this work, however, is played in Rome by 
the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church, 5 established by 
Benedict XV in 1917, which is presided over by the Pope himself. 
There are also in Rome, in addition to special colleges for the 
Ethiopians, the Maronites and other Eastern Catholics, the Pon 
tifical Oriental Institute, and the Russicum. The Pontifical Orien 
tal Institute was founded by Benedict XV by his motii proprio, 
Orientis catholici (1917); its organization was amplified and com 
pleted by Pius XI in his apostolic constitution Rerum orientalium 
(1928), and Deus scientiarum Dominus (1932). 

The Oriental Institute has two aims: first, to make available to 
the clergy of the Latin rite the liturgical and spiritual treasures of 
Eastern Christianity; and second, to provide for Eastern clergy, 
dissident as well as Catholic, a place for the study of Eastern 
thought, rites and practices, and an expose of both Catholic and 
Orthodox doctrine, so that, in the words of Pope Benedict, "each 
may recognize for himself the sources from which one and the 
other derives; if it is from the preaching of the Apostles as it has 
been transmitted by the teaching of the magtsterizwn of the 
Church, or if it is from another origin." 

In this framework the Institute was intended as a real meeting- 
place between East and West and a means to eliminate many mu 
tual prejudices. The courses at the Oriental Institute require three 
years, and upon their completion the students receive the usual 
academic degrees. The curriculum comprises all subjects of im 
portance for the understanding of the Christian East: theology, 
patristics, history, liturgy, canon law, ascetics, archaeology and 
the languages used in the liturgies and by the peoples concerned. 
Its richly supplied library consists of about 65,000 volumes. Its 

5 See Ch. vm, "The Roman Congregations," pp. 103-4. 


students usually total between thirty-five and fifty, to which num 
ber we must add an equal number of guests who attend but one 
or two courses; in 1950-51 there were sixty-five students and 
twenty-four professors. Pius XI in 1922 asked the Society of Jesus 
to take over the Institute and to reorganize its entire work; in 1926 
he gave them their own building on the Piazza Santa Maria Mag- 
giore in Rome. 

In 1923, the Institute began the publication of a series called 
Orientalia Christiana. In 1934 this series reached its hundredth 
publication, and was then divided into two series: the Orientalia 
Christiana Analecta continued to publish monographs; and the 
Orientalia Christiana Periodica became a review. At the same time 
the Institute began work on two monumental publications: to 
translate the Syrian Codex, and to publish the acts of the Council 
of Florence. To all this must be added the numerous publications 
of professors and teachers of the Institute, embracing every sector 
of Eastern Christianity. 

The Russicmn y the colloquial name of the Pontifical Russian 
College in Rome, was founded by Pius XI in 1929 and is also 
directed by the Jesuits. Pope Pius considered this work for the 
redemption of Russia as one of the most important creations of 
his pontificate. Its purpose is the training of deacons and priests 
of Russian nationality or of others who intend to work among 
Russians. Adapted to Russian needs, its courses are similar to those 
given by the North American College and other national colleges 
in Rome, and the students receive their degrees from the Grego 
rian University. Under present circumstances, most of the stu 
dents work after ordination among the Russian emigrants scat 
tered over the world. 

In addition to the above activities for better understanding 
between the Christians of East and West there are in various coun 
tries groups for studying and discussing the many difficult and 
intricate problems that separate them. Underlying all other diffi 
culties, according to most authorities, is the psychological differ 
ence between the Western and the Eastern mentality. Broadly 
speaking, the Eastern mind views the Church predominantly in its 
mystical, almost purely spiritual character and in its communal 
nature; the Western mind is inclined to place emphasis upon its 
hierarchical structure, juridical processes, and social aspects. These 
two viewpoints are both perfectly legitimate: the notion of the 

The Eastern Churches 241 

Church as a whole includes and synthesizes them. The one would 
be incomplete without the other; the denial of one by the other 
would be an error. 

With allowances for many exceptions and qualifications, it is 
probably true to say that Western Catholicism appears to the Or 
thodox Christian to be committed to the second view, while the 
average Western Catholic looks upon the Eastern Christian as 
committed to an unbalanced mysticism, and as unduly submissive 
to state authority. But since the Western Church has again un 
folded the unifying doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, 
much has been done to satisfy the Eastern desire for a deep spir 
itual conception of the Church. At all events, no activity of the 
Church is being more steadily, patiently and hopefully carried on 
than the effort to bridge the age-old chasm between Catholicism 
and the dissidents of the Eastern Churches. 



THE COMMUNIST DOMINATION of nearly one-half of 
Europe and of vast regions In Asia has confronted the Catholic 
Church with one of the most powerful adversaries it has known 
in the two thousand years of its history. This is the ideology of 
Communism which, moreover, casts its pressure over other eco 
nomically undeveloped countries and attempts to gain a footing 
in the nations of the Western world. 

The situation of the Catholic Church in countries under Com 
munist control cannot be understood without a knowledge of the 
Communist philosophy and of the tactics and strategy used by 
the Communists to achieve their aims. The Marxist ideology un 
compromisingly rejects God: in the society of dialectical ma 
terialism there is no place for religion or, as it is labeled, "supersti 
tion." This has been expressed unmistakably by responsible Com 
munist leaders from Lenin through Stalin to Khrushchev. The 
Communist aims were always, and still are, directed toward the 
annihilation of all religion, but its strategy and tactics vary accord 
ing to the changing situations in each country under its control. 

Lenin wrote: "Religion is the opium of the people. This dic 
tum of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire Marxist world out 
look concerning the problem of religion. All contemporary reli 
gions, churches and all types of religious organizations, Marxism re 
gards as organs of bourgeois reaction, serving to defend the 
exploitation and stultifying of the working class. . . . One must 
know how to battle against religion . . . that battle has to be un 
derstood in connection with the concrete practice of the class 

The Church in Cormrnmist-dominated Countries 243 

movement directed toward the elimination of the social roots of 
religion." 1 

The following passage on religion and churches under Com 
munist rule is quoted verbatim from the Communist Party pro 

Paragraph 13: With regard to religion the Party does not satisfy 
itself with the already decreed separation of Church from State and of 
school from the Church. . . . The Communist Party is guided by the 
conviction that only the realization of the developed consciousness of 
the mass in all socio-economical activities can bring about a full elimina 
tion of religious prejudices. The Party strives toward a total destruction 
of the existing link between the exploiting classes and the organiza 
tion of religious propaganda. The Party works for the factual libera 
tion of the toiling masses from religious prejudices and organizes the 
widest scientific-educational anti-religious propaganda. However, it 
is necessary carefully to avoid every kind of insult to the sentiments of 
worshippers because this 'would lead only to an intensification of reli 
gious fanaticism. 

The final sentence of this paragraph is of importance because 
it sheds light on the "tolerance" toward religion which is asserted 
by the Communist propagandists. These rules have never been 
revoked by the Communist Party which is the only permitted ex 
pression of the political will of the nations under Communist con 

It is important to recognize that in these countries the people 
do not choose their own government. The so-called elections are 
not elections, but simple voting processes, because the voter is al 
lowed with few exceptions to give his vote to one list only, since 
only one list exists. The ballot handed over to the voter is dropped 
before the eyes of a commissar into the ballot box. Should the 
voter wish to write other names on the ballot he must ask for a 
pencil, go into a separate room, and then come back before the 
commissar. Anyone who asks for a pencil is obviously against the 
official list and is thenceforth regarded as an enemy of the regime 
and is a marked man. . . . 

The government thus elected has total power. The so-called 
parliament is not a legislative branch of the power, not even a con 
sulting body; it is mere window dressing. Therefore, the govern 
ment is not bound by public control. The constitutions of these 
governments, however, contain a paragraph according to which 

1 Collected Works } vol. 14, p. 70. 


"the interest of the people" is the determining factor in applying 
the law. With this magical expression the leaders of the Commu 
nist Party may, within the local framework, make compromises 
when conditions in certain areas make this seem opportune at a 
given moment. In their tactics the Communist rulers have ele 
vated opportunism to the height of dogma. 

Again to quote Lenin: "The strictest loyalty to the ideas of 
Communism must be combined with the ability to make all the 
necessary practical compromises, to maneuver, to make agree 
ments, zigzags, retreats . . ." Especially with reference to coun 
tries behind the Iron Curtain, the Communists have been ready 
to compromise, but their compromise is always temporary. There 
are periods when they seem to lift certain restrictions and this re 
laxed situation could continue even for several years, but the de 
cision may be reversed at any time. It is important to keep in 
mind that it is not a parliament or the openly expressed will of 
the people which forces them to relax their rules. The decisions 
were and are made by a few: by those who are at the head of 
the Communist Party. If the Communist leaders deem it necessary 
to "negotiate" with the leaders of a religious community, the ne 
gotiations will not go on between equal partners because only the 
Communists possess the power and the possibility of sanction. The 
negotiating partner will sit around the table only as long as the 
Communists wish and has no power to enforce the fulfillment of 
any solemnly accepted obligation. 

Thus it is that the history of the persecutions in Russia itself 
as well as in the satellite countries shows on one hand a series of 
measures against religion which were part of an over-all plan, and 
on the other modes of action dictated by varying circumstances. 
In Russia, as we know, there was a period under Stalin when con 
cessions were made to the Orthodox Church in order to secure the 
cooperation of the believers among the people in the NEP, or New 
Economic Plan, and again later to gain their participation in the 
war effort against Hitler. Although the Orthodox leaders were 
forced to make important concessions, the Communist State 
made concessions too a double-edged sword. 

In the satellite countries the determining factors were the num 
ber of Catholics in each country, their organization, and the in 
tensity of the religious sentiment of the people. The harshness 
and immediacy of the measures taken in China, Bulgaria and Ro- 

The Church in Communist-dominated Countries 245 

mania, for example, were not followed in Poland, in Hungary or 
Yugoslavia. In the latter countries the strategy was more carefully 
worked out and subordinated to the consolidation of the Commu 
nist regimes. When it is deemed expedient in order to secure the 
neutrality if not the favor of the Catholic masses, the Com 
munists did not hesitate to accord a temporary measure of reli 
gious liberty or to soften anti-religious measures already taken. This 
was exploited to the full by their propagandists who do not fail 
to point out to world opinion each such measure of "religious 

In countries where there were Catholics of different rites, the 
measures taken against Catholics of the Oriental rites were not the 
same as those adopted against those of the Latin rite. In addition, 
in places where the Orthodox religion was more widespread and 
better established than the Catholic the Communists used one 
against the other, and in the end the Eastern Churches in com 
munion with Rome were forcibly absorbed into the Orthodox 
Church. This was particularly true in the Ukraine and Romania. 

One of the principles of Marxism is that the sovietization of a 
country and the economic effort should not be subordinated to the 
liquidation of religion. The strategy adopted always held this in 
view, and in those places where the Communist political and eco 
nomic framework was more solidly established, as for example in 
the U.S.S.R. itself, stronger and more radical methods were 
adopted than in other countries where economic crises had to be 
overcome. In Hungary between 1953 and 1955 anti-religious pres 
sure was relaxed and the ministers and faithful of the Church 
called upon to give their support to "national popular fronts" out 
of patriotic sentiment and for the common welfare of the nation. 

While a wide diversity of tactics was being used in carrying 
out the over-all fight against the Church, the Marxist governments 
built up strong organizations for psychological study and the 
carrying out of anti-religious, or better, anti-Catholic propaganda. 
In the beginning their task was to discredit the Church both 
within each country and in the eyes of the world. The grossest 
accusations were made against religion, the Church and the Pope. 
The Church was accused of being the accomplice of capitalism 
and the enemy of the workers; old and new ecclesiastical scandals 
were raked up. In China the Church was accused of having aided 
Chiang-Kai-shek and the Japanese; in Poland and Hungary of hav- 


ing favored the Nazis; elsewhere of having protected the Fascists or 
collaborated with the Germans. The Pope was constantly repre 
sented as the head of a State with widespread financial interests 
and in league with Wall Street; in China, Vietnam and Korea he 
was shown as the ally of the colonial Powers. The sheer weight 
of this carefully synchronized propaganda by newspaper, radio, 
motion pictures, posters and other means was intended to make 
the man in the street believe that the Communists were combat 
ing not religion but abuses of religion, and it often happened that 
the victims approved or justified the decisions reached. 

In the "people's democracies" the Catholic press was sup 
pressed, and Catholic associations dissolved. Church property was 
nationalized in the name of social justice and to the point of de 
priving the Church of its means of subsistence. The Church was 
moreover forbidden to carry on any educational, social or chari 
table activity. In every one of these countries, with the exception 
of Vietnam, the representatives of the Holy See were expelled as 
"foreigners," whether or not these representatives were vested 
with a diplomatic character. 

Having tried to discredit the Church in the eyes of the people, 
and rendering difficult if not impossible any contact with Rome, 
the next step was to strike at the Church in the persons of its 
highest national leaders, as in the case of Cardinal Mindzenty in 
Hungary and Cardinal Stepinac in Yugoslavia. Accused on 
trumped-up charges and their reputations blackened, such leaders 
were submitted to trials before "people's courts" and after con 
demnation either imprisoned or banished. In Albania and Romania, 
they were simply exterminated. 

Another means of undermining the action of the clergy, weak 
ening its resistance, and throwing confusion into the minds of 
the people was the sowing of division among the clergy. As soon 
as a few were won over to the support of the regime, an "as 
sociation of priests" was established and either formed a "national 
church" or else served as a fifth column within the Church itself. 
Thus weakened, the remainder of a country's episcopacy (in 
timidated by threats of imprisonment, or deceived by promises of 
personal liberty or liberty to carry out their ministry, or of the 
liberation of one of their number who was actually behind bars) 
was placed before the alternative of a paralysis of ecclesiastical 
life or of signing an agreement with the Communists, especially 

The Church in Communist-dominated Countries 247 

in view of the fact that because of historical developments in 
many Central European countries the salary of the clergy is paid, 
and continues to be paid, by the State. 

In certain countries religious persecution went hand in hand 
with misleading propaganda based on the existence of so-called 
"progressive" Catholics. In these cases the government organized 
a group of Catholic priests, intellectuals and other laymen who 
were willing to act against the hierarchy some of them out of 
fear, others because they had become convinced Marxists. These 
groups received ample funds and were allowed to publish maga 
zines and books, to hold meetings, to invite Catholics from the 
free world to attend international gatherings, in order to convince 
them that no religious persecution existed in the country. 

The "bureaus of ecclesiastical affairs" imposed upon the Church 
leaders in these countries had as their objects to reduce the Church 
to a simple administrative department of the State and gradually to 
eliminate the "refractory" clergy since the Communist State 
claimed the right to make all appointments. The bishops were pre 
sented with a list of "vicar generals" or of other diocesan function 
aries selected from among the "patriotic priests" willing to collabo 
rate with the government. It often followed that these became the 
virtual administrators of the diocese. 

Under the regime of the bureau of ecclesiastical affairs the 
freedom of worship is professed, and religion is tolerated as a 
private affair which must exist side by side with the -freedom of 
anti-religious propaganda. This means that followers of religion 
are allowed only the passive practice of their faith while the 
enemies of religion are at liberty to use the active weapon of anti- 
religious propaganda. The Church as an hierarchial organization 
and an educational force, or as the inspiration for social and cul 
tural action, has no right to exist. 

Thus, according to the Communist reasoning and procedures, 
when direct measures of repression cannot be taken, time will 
effect the dialectical process of the disintegration of the clergy 
and of worship, hence of the Church. In time under these condi 
tions the souls of men can be detached from their faith and Chris 
tians, confused and helpless, will accept the Marxist ideology. 

Since Stalin's death in 1955, so great has been the unrest in 
satellite countries and, it would appear, in Russia itself, that Mos 
cow and certain other regimes behind the Iron Curtain have 


professed to divorce themselves from the "crimes of Stalinism" 
and to inaugurate a new policy of "co-existence." The earlier up 
risings in Eastern Germany (1953) and Poznan (1956) and more 
recent events in Hungary and Poland have proved the existence of 
deep cracks in the Communist system, and from many points 
of view that the Soviet Union is not the monolith it had previously 
seemed. Moreover many years of ideological and anti-religious in 
doctrination of youth appear far from having yielded the expected 
results. Even so, and despite certain encouraging signs, the lead 
ers of the Church regard the present situation with caution. 

In the first place an elaborate machinery has been set up to 
make people believe that what is going on is a struggle of the 
"good" or "idealistic" Communists against the "bad" ones. Even 
in Poland where the Primate, Cardinal Wyszynski, and eight other 
bishops have been released and restored to their sees and where 
the government has concluded an agreement favorable to the 
Church in the matter of the teaching of religion, the appointment 
of bishops, and granted licenses for the publication of several 
Catholic papers, the issue is a confused one. In a time of national 
emergency a "national" Communist Party leader was forced to 
invoke the influence of an imprisoned Catholic cardinal to sta 
bilize his regime, and to prevent such a massacre as took place in 
Hungary. But for any hopes to be placed upon "national Com 
munism/' as Communism separated from Moscow, the Church 
has before its eyes the example of Yugoslavia where the govern 
ment has followed the same program of persecution and has not 
been less anti-religious than the Soviet Union itself. 

Under the stress of the present situation gestures have been 
made in various countries to give the impression that the Com 
munists have renounced their anti-religious program, and are con 
tent with the results obtained. Such gestures seem to have a com 
mon inspiration, and might be accepted at their face value save 
for the fact that there is reason, based on past experience, to fear 
that they are made to lead the Catholic masses to believe in the 
possibility of spiritual coexistence with Communism so that the 
work of disintegration may be resumed at a more favorable time. 

Vis-a-vis Communism the Church's aim is, and has always 
been, the defense of the Faith. However strong the attraction of 
certain of the Communist tenets have been in the past to Chris 
tians interested in social justice, the fate of the masses and the 

The Church m Co7nrnunist-do?mnated Countries 249 

economic betterment of mankind, the Church itself has always 
recognized Communism as the ideological enemy of the Faith 
and of humanity as well. The Church does not believe that man 
is served by abetting the declared enemies of God. The Church, 
moreover, has refused to find its allies among those who wish to 
take up the anti-Communist struggle for purely political reasons. 
We will remember that the Church condemned Nazism which 
nevertheless fought against Communism, and for the same reason 
since many of its errors were the same. What the Church com 
bats is error wherever it is found; it refuses injustice in whatever 
place it is manifested. 

No better outline of her policy in regard to the problems of 
persecution and "co-existence" can be found than in the Sep 
tember 1956 broadcast message of Pope Pius XII to the partici 
pants in the National Catholic Congress at Cologne: 

There is a "coexistence in truth." We have spoken of it on another 
occasion, and would add the following. The Catholic Church con 
strains no one to belong to her ranks. She does, however, demand 
for herself the freedom to be able to live in a country according to her 
own constitution and law, to minister to her faithful and to preach 
the gospel of Jesus Christ openly. This is, indeed, in her view, the 
necessary basis of any sincere coexistence. In the meantime she con 
tinues to fight; not in the field of politics and economics, as she has al 
ways been falsely charged, but with her own weapons: the steadfastness 
of her faithful, prayer, truth, and love. She offers up her distressing 
persecution for the salvation of the persecutors themselves, as well as 
for the peoples and countries in which she is persecuted. 2 

2 Reported in Osservatore Romano, Sept. 2-3, 1956. 


THE PART PLAYED by the Religious Orders in the action 
of the Catholic Church is only second in importance to the func 
tion of its strictly hierarchical organization. By the term '^Religious 
Orders" we mean in a general way the large number of organized 
societies within the Church, ranging from such historic groups as 
the Benedictine, Dominican, Franciscan and Jesuit orders, origi 
nating many centuries ago, to congregations created, by compari 
son, only yesterday. Religious may be defined as those persons 
who live in community hi any religious institute approved by 
the Church and who have made the vows of chastity, poverty 
and obedience. The time-honored method of describing their re 
lation to the Church is by comparing them to military formations 
the armies, or regiments, or companies, organized under and 
led by commanders of varying degrees of authority, all subject to 
the supreme authority of the commander-in-chief , the Pope. 

Such a comparison, however, while practically useful if not 
pushed too far, is at best a figure of speech of a strictly limited 
kind. Perhaps we may gain a more comprehensive idea of the 
place occupied by these groups by means of another mode of 
metaphor. Suppose we think of the Catholic Church not merely 
as a mighty organization, embracing a multitude of minor organ 
izations, but rather as a world society a society embracing all 
nations and peoples, at least in its plan of action, in its intentions, 
however far from being perfectly actualized its plan and intentions 
may be. Within this world society the religious orders might be 
figuratively regarded as constituting highly specialized classes, set 

The Religious Orders 2. 5 1 

apart and trained for the performance of many different types of 
spiritual, moral, intellectual and corporal works, under the author 
ity of the supreme hierarchy, yet functioning with almost complete 
autonomy in their special fields under rules or charters received at 
the time of their foundation from Rome, and in so far as the ways 
and means of carrying on their works are concerned. 

Active and Contemplative Orders 

The usefulness not only to the Church but to human society 
in general of the work of the religious orders which are mainly 
devoted to education, and charity in the more restricted sense of 
the word connoting social service, the collection and dispensing 
of alms, the care of orphans, prisoners, old people, the sick, the 
insane is understood and praised by all except the avowed en 
emies of the Church. Much more difficult to understand and still 
more to comprehend, even for many Catholics, is the role of the 
ascetic and contemplative orders, and of the part played by as 
ceticism and contemplation in all religious orders. In the estima 
tion of the Church, the contemplative life as contrasted with the 
active religious life is of a superior kind. Generally speaking, the 
two types are, as we have already stated, manifested in all reli 
gious orders and congregations but in a greatly varying degree. 
In some societies the emphasis is placed upon the contemplative 
life; in others, and these are the great majority and contain by 
far the greater number of members, the active life prevails. Yet 
one common purpose animates the members of all the orders, and 
that is the personal purpose, the supreme end, sought by all the 
individuals composing the organizations, namely, the sanctification 
and final salvation of their own souls. 

Thus, Carthusians and Discalced Carmelites are considered as 
contemplatives (among many others who might be mentioned), 
for they are shut away from the active life not only of the world 
but of the Church, in strictly secluded cloisters to pursue the 
life of contemplation, of prayer and self-immolation. The Little 
Sisters of the Poor, or the Sisters of Charity, or the Christian 
Brothers, are examples of congregations considered to be living 
the active life ministering to the poor, the sick, the orphans, the 
aged, or conducting schools. But no instructed Catholic could 
think that the life of the cloistered Carmelite is inactive, even in 
the most practical sense; or the life of the nursing and teaching 


or missionary religious is not (or at least might not be) con 
templative or ascetic, in the highest degree. A bishop in the mis 
sion field, for example, desperately in need of priests, and teachers, 
and doctors and nurses and working people of all kinds, will 
strive to obtain a community of contemplarives to live their clois 
tered life in his district because he regards such a community 
as a spiritual powerhouse, so to speak, a group of experts in the 
spiritual science of prayer, drawing down the grace of God for 
the enlightening and energizing of his workers and his people. 
Thus the first bishop of the United States, John Carroll, immedi 
ately after his consecration, asked for and obtained a community 
of Carmelites to settle in Baltimore to pray for the workers active 
in building up the Church in this country. Not that contemplative 
orders do not know the cares and burdens of temporal labors; 
for in the time in which they are not engaged in their strenuous 
routine of liturgical ceremonies and prayer, and their individual 
meditations and studies and exercises of penance, mortification, 
reparation and worship (all intended for the benefit of others as 
well as themselves), they are constantly at work, supporting them 
selves by such things as gardening, or farming, or sewing, making 
vestments, or writing books. 

Similarly, the members of the active orders not only endeavor 
to spiritualize all their prescribed occupations and duties by the 
"intention" which directs their efforts, the intention to prove their 
love of God and of God's children, their fellow men, by their 
works; but also what time and energy are not consumed in that 
way are devoted to contemplative exercises and devotions. Noth 
ing more than this very sketchy and quite inadequate account of 
the contemplative element in the activities of the Church can be 
given here, but the subject itself, thus indicated, is of primary im 
portance to those who seek a fuller comprehension of the Church 
in action. 

The Religious Vocation 

The vast forces which make up the religious orders and con 
gregations are neither recruited nor drafted by the Church. 
They are essentially volunteers, never conscripts. Generally young 
and able-bodied when they enlist, sometimes coming from wealthy 
homes and with good prospects of worldly success, these men 
and women flock of their own free wills into monasteries and 

The Religious Orders 253 

convents in response to a spiritual call. They are the souls who 
deliberately will to follow the counsel of Christ when He said to 
the rich young man: "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou 
hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; 
and come, follow me." 

This was not stated as an obligation incumbent upon all Chris 
tians for whom the precept was "to keep the commandments" 
not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery or render false 
witness; to honor parents and to love God above all, and one's 
neighbor as oneself but it was a counsel for those who wished 
"to be perfect." The Church has always maintained the distinction 
between what her Founder commanded for all and what He 
counseled for the smaller number of those able to follow such 
counsels of spiritual and moral heroism. A religious vocation is, 
then, a calling to the perfect life, a desire to follow it, and a con 
viction that one is among those chosen by Christ to walk in His 
footsteps, literally and constantly, in a life of poverty, of chastity 
and of obedience. It does not necessarily mean a vocation to the 
priesthood; for women, of course, this would be impossible, and 
among the orders of men, many are not, nor do they expect to be, 
priests. For example the Christian Brothers, a teaching order, by 
the will of their founder, St. John Baptist de la Salle, cannot be 

The religious vocation is to Catholics one of the greatest 
proofs of sanctifying grace, of that spiritual force flowing from 
God, ordinarily through the sacraments of the Church, which 
purifies and strengthens human wills. But laying aside motives of 
a supernatural order, we may observe that the life of a religious 
is not necessarily unnatural, that it accords very well with the 
temperament of certain individuals who feel the need of doing 
something superior to the ordinary. Other impressionable and 
nervous souls are not able to cope with a life in the world; they 
are confused and unhappy, and have need of the support which 
community life gives to them. Such cases as these, however, are 
very much in the minority among the members of the religious 
orders. A contrasting type is composed of men and women who 
lay down the finest intellects and imperious wills on the altar of 
self-sacrifice* Among them have been many great geniuses 
Benedict, Dominic, Francis, Ignatius, Clare, Teresa of Avila, the 
great founders and reformers of religious orders; others have been 


content to seek and maintain the humblest and most retired places. 
A fact which demonstrates the vitality of the idea of the 
dedicated religious life is that there are proportionately just as 
many, if not more "religious" as the members of these groups 
are called in the twentieth century as in the first centuries of the 
Church, or in the middle ages when the great monastic orders 
reached the height of their influence. Since World War II the num 
ber of vocations has greatly increased. Changes in social structure 
have brought about many alterations in the customs and work of 
religious communities, but they have affected in no way the attrac 
tion of religious life, which seems to make the same appeal as in 
the time of Christ. So far as the attachment of religious congre 
gations to Rome is concerned, it is closer now than ever before. 

Development of Religious Orders 

Considering the great service rendered by these bodies to the 
Holy See, it is a striking fact that the Popes have not taken a 
greater part in their creation. This work has conspicuously been 
the expression of individual genius, of personal power of creation 
and of leadership. Rather, it has been the policy of the Sovereign 
Pontiffs to stand aloof from the founding of the multiple orders 
and congregations, intervening only when their approval was re 
quested, and examining with great attention the new necessities 
and social changes which gave rise to these new organizations or 
brought about changes in the old societies. Over two centuries ago 
the Church ceased its approval of the constitution of new religious 
orders with solemn vows. New institutes created for certain condi 
tions in modern life are allowed to prescribe simple vows only, 
and all must remain in close contact with the Congregation of 
Religious in Rome (q.v.) which examines into their usefulness and 
activities, and may, if it considers it wise, suppress those whose 
work is considered inefficacious or no longer necessary. 

Although asceticism was practiced by many individual hermits 
and groups of men and women in the early days of Christianity, 
the true fathers of the Western religious families, who gave a 
durable basis and form to the conventual life, were St. Basil in the 
fourth, 1 St. Augustine in the fifth, and especially St. Benedict in 
the sixth century. Early monastic orders like the Cistercians, 

1 His influence on Eastern monastieism was jnst as great. 

The Religious Orders 255 

Trappists, Basilians, Camaldolese, all followed the rule of St. 
Benedict, whereas the variety of religious who appeared toward 
the twelfth century under the name of "canons regular" were 
submitted to the Augustinian regulations, originally drawn up by 
St. Augustine, the great Bishop of Hippo. Such are the Pre- 
monstratensians, the canons of St. John Lateran, the canons reg 
ular of the Holy Cross. Religious orders only in the partial sense 
were the Knights of Malta, the Order of Teutonic Knights, the 
Knights Templars, organized at the time of the crusades in defense 
of the cause of Christ by force of arms, or for the establishing 
and maintaining of hospitals and other charitable works in con 
nection with the Crusades. 

With the exception of the last-mentioned military orders, 
monasricism as organized in the Middle Ages was essentially con 
templative. All links with the world were broken and the monk 
lived only for God. Although certain abbeys became centers of 
learning and in some cases the starting-point of missionary activi 
ties, since even in early times monks went out to other lands to 
conquer souls, the ordinary ideal of monastic life was the search 
for God within the monastic enclosure. 

The thirteenth century, opening a second epoch in the history 
of monasticism, gave birth to a new form of religious life. As a 
reaction against the power and increasing temporal possessions of 
the military orders and canons regular (as an order, not as individ 
uals for the canons regular were contemplatives and penitents 
occupying themselves with tilling the fields or study when not 
at prayers), St. Francis and St. Dominic founded the brothers 
minor and the preaching brothers, or the mendicant friars, so 
called because not only the members, but the orders themselves 
could not possess property. These orders gave a great place to prac 
tical action; for centuries they were foremost in the battalions 
of the Church, fighting against heresy, ransoming slaves, caring for 
the poor, the sick and the wounded, traveling and preaching in the 
most remote quarters of the globe, their convent in their heart, 
the rosary at their belt, their crucifix in their hand. "You shall be 
the athletes of the faith," wrote Honorius III to the Preachers. 
"The dogs of God," they were called by another Pope. As time 
went on and experience proved that absolute poverty could be 
achieved only in the absence of all social function and that the 


formation of aspirants involved having a novitiate, even these or 
ders in turn acquired houses with a certain stability. 

Centuries passed. The decadence of moral life during the 
Renaissance, then the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter- 
Reformation created other needs. To instruct youth and direct 
consciences there appeared the "clerks regular," of which the 
most celebrated are the Jesuits, and the "ecclesiastical congrega 
tions" or societies of priests, like the Sulpicians, Oratorians, and 

The Society or Company of Jesus offers a most interesting 
aspect of the varied conceptions of religious life. Their organiza 
tion is very supple yet very centralized, their discipline highly 
defined and strict. Obliged by their work to mingle with the 
world, the formation of a Jesuit is long and slow (he is rarely 
professed before the age of thirty-five). To quote from one au 
thority on the religious life: 

The Ignatian formation, when compared with that of earlier times, 
is found to accentuate the independence of the religious, while at the 
same time obedience is made stricter. These two conceptions seem to 
be contradictory, but, in fact, they are in harmony with each other. 
The Jesuit is not made for living within an outer rampart; his life 
needs a solid inner framework; he must be able to live for a long 
time apart from the common life without losing anything of his reli 
gious character; he must be capable of taking the initiative and of as 
suming responsibilities; but he must at the same time remain attached 
to his order; his spiritual life must remain rooted in the rule of the 
order and united with the order; it is for this reason that obedience is 
stressed; the formation of a Jesuit aims at making him supple; having 
to be so frequently away from the common life, he will not have a 
superior who controls him the whole time, or brothers who are wit 
nesses of his life; his spirit of discipline must, therefore, be all the 
more definite, when he is given a direction. 2 

For the innumerable needs of society in our time many new 
institutions of men and women have sprung up. Destined for the 
missions, or the instructions of various classes of society, or the 
evangelization of cities or the rural districts, or works of material 
or spiritual charity there exists a religious order for practically 
every need. Many of the smaller religious societies have disap 
peared, having been suppressed or simply dying out; but all of the 
great orders still exist side by side, the oldest with the most re- 

2 Jacques Leclercq, The Religious Vocation, New York, 1956, pp. 75-6. 

The Religious Orders 257 

cent, each following the spirit of its rule and adapting itself as 
best it may to the transformation of the conditions of life. 3 

Religious Life md Canon Law 

Since the earliest times the Church has not ceased to expand 
her legislation regarding the religious life. This legislation is now 
set forth in a precise, varied and rigorous set of rules in the present 
Code of Canon Law. We shall mention only a few of its provisions 
which may be of interest to the lay reader. 

The canon code makes the following distinctions among reli 
gious: religious with simple vows are professed members of a con 
gregation; regulars are professed members of an order; sisters 
(sorores) are women religious with simple vows; nuns (monides) 
are women religious with solemn vows, or if the very nature of 
things or the context does not imply otherwise, they are women 
religious whose vows by rule should be solemn, but which have 
been declared simple by the Holy See. 

The distinction between simple and solemn vows is very diffi 
cult to the lay mind. Since the time of Boniface VII, vows have 
been divided into simple and solemn vows, according as the 
Church recognizes them as such, extending to one and the other 
judicial effects of a more or less extensive nature. Foremost is its 
effect of this distinction on the solemn vow of chastity. A solemn 
vow of chastity invalidates subsequent marriage, whereas as a gen 
eral rule, the simple vow makes it only illicit. Dispensation or 
rather commutation of solemn vows may be made only by the 
Pope. All solemn vows are perpetual, but simple vows may be 
either perpetual or temporary. 

3 For instance in recent years the rules governing cloistered nuns have 
been greatly modernized. Outside apostolic works have been entrusted to a 
part of the congregation of a cloistered convent. Activities now considered 
compatible with the contemplative life are the teaching of catechism, religious 
instruction, education of children, their preparation for first Communion and 
similar works. Cloistered nuns are also permitted to leave their convents for 
the following reasons: air raids, requisition of convents by civil or military 
authorities, economic reasons of major importance, apostolic works and 
voting. Cf. Decree of the Congregation of Religious, dated March 25, 1956, 
complementing the apostolic constitution Spoma Christi of Dec. i, 1950. 
Sponsa Christi gave cloistered nuns the opportunity of providing for their 
economic needs, since under modern conditions the plight of certain convents 
had become desperate. Former practices such as the dowry of each member 
of a community became ineffective and the charity of the faithful is not 
enough to provide adequate food and living conditions for these women. 


The Code of Canon Law gives the following definitions in 
speaking of religious orders: a religion, or religious institute in 
general, is a society approved by legitimate ecclesiastical authority, 
whose members in accordance with the constitution of their so 
ciety make public vows, either perpetual or temporary, to be re 
newed, if temporary, after the lapse of a specified time. An or 
der is a "religion" in which solemn vows are made; a congrega 
tion is a society with simple vows only, whether perpetual or 
temporary. A monastic congregation is a union of self-governing 
monasteries under one superior; an exempt religion is an institute 
with solemn or simple vows which has been withdrawn from the 
direction of the local bishop. A pontifical religion or institute is 
one which has been approved or commended by decree of the 
Holy See and thus subtracted from the jurisdiction of the bishop 
of the diocese where it was formed. A diocesan institute is one 
erected by an Ordinary (a bishop or archbishop) and as yet 
without the pontifical decree. If the members of an organization 
are generally received into the priesthood, it is called a clerical in 
stitute; otherwise it is lay. 

A religious house is the residence of any religious organization 
a house of religion being one which belongs to an order, and 
a formal house is one in which there are at least six professed 
religious, four of "whom must be priests, if the institute is clerical. 
A number of religious houses within the same territory and gov 
erned by the same superior is said to belong to a province. 

As religious are members both of the Church and of their own 
orders or congregations, they are subject to a twofold hierarchy: 
that of their ecclesiastical superior and that of their religious 
superiors. The highest authority is the Pope to whom they are 
bound not only as members of the Church but by their vow of 
obedience. The Sacred Congregation of Religious is immediately 
in charge of all matters pertaining to religious, and any question 
involving the intervention of the Holy See must be submitted to 
that Congregation. Most religious orders have a cardinal protector 
in Rome who possesses BO legal jurisdiction over the order or its 
members, but seeks to promote the welfare of the institute by 
his advice and patronage. Religious are also subject to the local 
Ordinary but in varying degrees, and he does not interfere with 
their internal government. 

The authority of religious superiors is defined in their own 

The Religious Orders ^ 59 

constitutions, or rule, and by common law. Most of the principal 
orders are at present divided into national groups and subdivided 
into provinces, each containing a number of establishments, 
houses and convents. The general governs the whole order, the 
provincial governs the province, and an abbot, prior, provost, rec 
tor, warden or superior each separate community. At the first 
stages of its career, every religious institute is submitted to the full 
jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese where it is established; 
when the institute has received pontifical approval, it is responsi 
ble directly to the Holy See. 

In most religious institutes, higher superiors hold office only 
for a short length of time and within a period provided by the con 
stitution. An exception is the general of the Jesuits who is elected 
for life, as are the abbots of Benedictine communities. Local 
superiors must not be appointed for more than three years; if 
the constitution permits, they may be reappointed to a second, but 
not to a third, consecutive term in the same house. Superiors must 
reside in their own houses and not leave except under conditions 
permitted by their constitution. They must see that their religious 
are informed of all papal measures regarding the religious life and 
that they are observed. The constitution and papal decrees regard 
ing each institute must be read at least once a year on a stated 
day in each house. Superiors must also see that instruction in 
Christian doctrine is given at least twice a month to lay brothers 
and lay sisters and domestic servants in their houses. 

The heads of monastic orders must render financial accounts 
along with their general report to the Holy See made every five 
years, and accountings to local bishops must be made for various 
purposes and at stated intervals. In the case of women religious, 
the local Ordinary must generally be consulted regarding the in 
vestment and reinvestment of community funds, including gifts 
and dowries. Religious institutions may not, without the express 
consent of the Pope, contract debts amounting to more than $6,000, 
or for smaller amounts without the written consent of superiors or 
the diocesan Ordinary. All monasteries of nuns, even exempt, must 
make an accounting once a year to the local Ordinary and to their 
regular superior. All religious superiors of both men and women 
are warned not to run into debt, unless their ordinary revenues are 
sufficient to pay interest and extinguish the debt within a reason 
able time. 


The conditions of admittance to religious life vary greatly 
with the constitutions and purposes of the various orders and con 
gregations. In all institutes of perpetual vows the candidate is first 
given a trial period of at least six months as a postulant, within the 
walls of the religious house. After having shown a declaration 
signed by his bishop testifying to his birthplace, residence, age, 
habits, vocation, position and education, he is given the habit of a 
novice. He must furnish proof that he has no debts or pecuniary 
obligations, that there exists no accusation of crime against him and 
that he has never incurred any canonical censure, irregularity or 
hindrance. The novitiate must last at least one full year, following 
which the religious pronounces his vows in accordance with the 
rules of his institute. 

Clerical religious must, like secular priests, have a period of 
training in theology and philosophy and kindred subjects. If their 
own order or congregation is not provided with a house of stud 
ies, they may go to a public Catholic university or to the scholasti- 
cate of another province or order or to the regular seminary of the 
diocese. While following their courses, they must reside in an ap 
proved institution, and be under the special guidance of a prefect 
who has the proper qualifications as master of novices. They must 
have two years of philosophy and four years of theology. After 
their studies are completed, they are examined annually for five 
years by some qualified member of their institute. 

By canon law, religious orders or communities in which there 
are four members or less must recite Divine Office daily in unison 
if their constitutions so prescribe, exemptions being made only 
for lawful impediments. They must, moreover, make an annual 
retreat, attend daily Mass if possible, go to confession weekly and 
receive Holy Communion frequently. They must also perform the 
work and devotions prescribed by their rules. 

The Holy See alone may grant religious the right to pass from 
one institute to another. Also, for good reason, a religious may 
abandon his or her congregation or order. He may be granted an 
indult of exclaustration by the diocesan authority or the Holy 
See, and return to the world but must still remain bound by his 
vows or other obligations; or he may be granted an indult of secu 
larization according to which he is entirely free from vows or 
rules, unless he has taken major orders. 

The Religious Orders 26 1 

Religious with temporary vows are quite free to return to sec 
ular life when the term of their vows has expired; their institute, 
on the other hand, for a just and reasonable cause, can dismiss 
them at the same period, though not on the score of ill-health. 
Such changes are quite lawful. Unlawful is the action of the reli 
gious who, having made perpetual vows, leaves his community 
with the intention of not returning. The three crimes for which 
religious are immediately dismissed from their institute are: i) pub 
lic apostasy from Catholicism; 2) flight with a person of the op 
posite sex; 3) attempted marriage or civil marriage. 

Secular Institutes 

As a legitimate development of the older spirituality of the 
orders and congregations, and side by side with them, there has 
sprung up within the past thirty years a new type of religious life 
known as the Secular Institute which, in some measure, reacts 
against a certain tradition of aloofness from the world. These are 
yet another manifestation of the corporate spiritual life of the 
Church, which while retaining the essential spirituality and total 
consecration of the older religious orders, offer their members the 
practice of the evangelical counsels in a framework in keeping 
with the ordinary way of life in the world today. 

^At the time the present Code of Canon Law was planned and 
written, these institutes had not been fully developed, and there is 
nothing in the code regarding them. They were brought into ca 
nonical being by Pope Pius XII in the apostolic constitution Pro- 
vida Mater Ecclesiae of February 2, 1947, which was followed by a 
motu proprio, Primo felidter, of March 12, 1948, and in turn sup 
plemented by an instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Reli 
gious of March 12, 1948. They are entrusted to the care of this 
Sacred Congregation of Religious, without prejudice to the rights 
of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith with re 
gard to those societies created for the help of the missions, or the 
rights of the Sacred Congregation of the Council regarding com 
mon pious sodalities or unions. They can be founded and estab 
lished by bishops who must in each case consult the Sacred Con 
gregation of Religious. 

The members of these new religious institutes do not take the 
vows of religion in public, but do so privately. As a rule they do 


not wear a distinctive habit; neither are they bound to live in com 
munity, though every institute must have at least one central house 
as its seat of government and a training place for its novices. This 
place, or another one, must provide a meeting ground for its mem 
bers and a refuge when they are sick or aged. These are the min 
imum requirements for those institutes which do not have a full 
community life. On the other hand, there are certain of these in 
stitutes where a common life is the norm, and some of these have 
a corporate work such as a school, a hospital, or a home for the 
poor. Still others send out their members each day to work in a 
profession, in an office or factory, and gather them again each eve 
ning into their community life. 

Of the many secular institutes which have come into being in 
recent years some have built up their spirituality on the traditions 
of existing religious orders or congregations, while others have 
broken entirely new ground. In the case of the first, they have as 
their main ideal the diffusion of the spirit of the order, and al 
though the institute remains in the hands of its own superiors, it 
keeps in touch with monasteries or convents of the order and con 
tracts a spiritual link with them. Such, for instance, is the way of 
life of the oblates living together in Munich under the Benedic 
tine rule, or of those in Essex, England, which look to the monas 
tery of Ampleforth. 

Under the egis of the Dominican order, new institutes have 
sprung up especially in France where they are concerned with the 
renewal of Thomistic studies, the liturgical revival, and with ques 
tions of social justice. In Italy the Franciscans have sponsored in 
stitutes whose members have bound themselves to pursue a life 
of perfection in the world and to work for Catholic Action; here 
a small band of women, which started under the care of Father 
Agostino Gemelli, O.F.M., has grown to an institute of over two 
thousand in number. These women, who may be housewives, 
teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, or workers in offices and fac 
tories, live mostly in their own homes, but endeavor to carry the 
Franciscan spirit into every walk of life. Among others, the Car 
melite order has inspired groups to live the life of the counsels in 
the world, and various of the new institutes are characterized by 
the spirituality of St. Ignatius and his Society of Jesus. 

On the other hand, many of the new institutes have been built 

The Religious Orders 263 

up on entirely new conceptions. Among them we may mention 
the Auodliaires de FApostolat in Belgium which dates back to Car 
dinal Mercier and World War I; the Society of St. Paul which 
gives effective service in editing and publishing papers and books, 
in visiting, lecturing, and running hostels; the Opus Dei and the 
Institute of St. Teresa from Spain; the Sisters of Social Service 
founded in Hungary by Sister Margit Schlachta; and the Little 
Brothers and Sisters of Charles de Foucauld from France. Charita 
ble and missionary work is also covered by the Schoenstatt Sisters 
of Germany, and by the Ladies of the Grail originating in Holland. 
Foreign missions are served by such institutes as the Belgian 
Auodliaires Laiques des Missions. 

It is possible to mention here only a few of these new insti 
tutes or to go into a description of their activities which in many 
cases are identified with the life and resources of the diocese and 
parish. On the whole they are an attempt to meet the challenge of 
our times in terms of living. Believing in the teachings of the 
Church, the founders of these organizations have realized that for 
the Christian the present age is an age of heroism and have dared 
to restate the Christian message in a f ormula adapted to the days in 
which we live. 

The Third Orders 

Several of the larger monastic orders have lay associations or 
Third Orders connected with their religious life and sharing their 
spiritual favors. These are simple societies of persons of all ages, 
both sexes and conditions of life, who are trying to live an un 
worldly life while remaining in the world, and nothing distin 
guishes them in an exterior manner from the mass of the laity. 
They try to bring more perfection to their practice of the com 
mandments of God and of the Church and all Christian virtues, to 
conform in general to the spirit of the great orders to which they 
are attached, and to carry out the particular form of piety culti 
vated by that order. For instance, they generally honor with special 
devotion the saints of their order. Individually, these persons 
have little or nothing to do with the Congregation of Religious in 
Rome, but their constitutions and privileges must be approved at 
that source. One of the external privileges of a member of a Third 
Order is to possess and wear on certain occasions, and to be buried 


in, the monastic habit of the great organization which they have 
joined, 4 

The Third Orders were established as far back as 1 1 34, dating 
from the time of St. Norbert. The most widely spread is the 
Seraphic Third Order, or that of St. Francis, founded by that saint 
and first approved by Pope Honorius III in 1221. The Dominican 
Third Order was approved by Pope Gregory IX in 1229. Another, 
that of the Servites, obtained pontifical approval in 1424; the Car 
melites and Augustinians founded similar bodies in the same cen 
tury. Since 1727, the right to found Third Orders has been re 
served to the Holy See. 

The statistics of these religious men and women are very diffi 
cult to obtain, but it has been estimated that apart from the Third 
Orders mentioned above, there are about three hundred thousand 
men (priests and brothers) of whom around 115,000 are priests. 
(These figures do not include, of course, diocesan or "secular" 
priests who are reported as 262,000 in the entire world.) In addi 
tion we may count at least three times the number of nuns a 
grand total of over a million and a quarter persons devoting their 
whole lives, without any reserve, to God and to the Catholic 
Church in action. 

* In addition to the lay ternaries there are regular ternaries who externally 
differ but little from other religious congregations. They live in common, 
wear a special habit which is blessed, recite the Divine Office daily, or say 
corresponding prayers either in private or in unison. They promise to practice 
certain mortifications and observe days of fasting and abstinence beside those 
prescribed for ordinary Catholics. 



IT is in the field of education that the Catholic Church 
most clearly and definitely acts in the fullest possible measure to 
realize her own conception of her nature and her mission. Primarily 
and essentially in her action among men, she is today what she 
has been from the beginning of her existence, and what she nec 
essarily must be until the end of the world, namely, a teaching 
organization. "Going, teach ye all nations," Christ said to the 
Apostles. The Church considers these words not as an admoni 
tion but as an imperative command. Throughout history the most 
powerful of human forces anti-Christian or non-Christian gov 
ernments of many types, from violently persecuting pagan em 
perors to secularized modern States which have abandoned 
Christian principles have striven either to destroy, or to restrict, 
or to leave no place for, the action of the Church in education. 

Against all such efforts the Church has ceaselessly struggled. 
In modern times Pope Pius XI was the voice of the Church when 
in answer to Mussolini's claim that the State was superior to all 
other organized forces in the field of education and that on this 
point he, as head of the Italian State, was "intractable," the Pontiff 
replied: "We can never agree with anything that restricts or de 
nies the right given by God to the Church and the family in the 
field of education. On this point we are not merely intractable, we 
are uncompromising." 

The Pontiff followed up his declaration by an encyclical let 
ter, issued December 31, 1929, "On the Christian Education of 
Youth" in which he restated the claims of the Church and laid 


down both the principles which guide her in this field and the gen 
eral rules by which these principles are to be applied. This encyc 
lical, now known as Divini illius maglstri^ is regarded as a basic 
papal pronouncement on the subject. 

These excerpts from the Code of Canon Law of 1917 state 
the Church's stand on education: 

Canon 1113: Parents are bound by a most serious obligation to pro 
vide to the best of their power for the religious and moral as well as 
for the physical and civil education of their children, and also to 
provide for their temporal welfare. 

Canon 1372: From childhood all the faithful must be so educated 
that not only are they taught nothing contrary to faith and morals, 
but that religious and moral training takes the chief place. 

Canon 1373: In every elementary school religious instruction, 
adapted to the age of the children, must be given. 

Canon 1374: Catholic children must not attend non-Catholic, neutral 
or mixed schools. ... It is for the bishop of the place to alone decide, 
according to the instructions of the Apostolic See, in what circum 
stances and with what precautions attendance at such schools may be 
tolerated without danger of perversion to the pupils. 

Canon 1375: The Church has the right to establish schools of every 
grade, not only elementary schools, but also high schools and colleges. 

From the above there arise three main considerations: 

1. Catholic parents may not take an attitude of indifference 
tow r ard the obligation to see to the religious and moral education 
of their children, nor may they transfer it wholly to others. 

2. The separation of moral and religious from purely intellec 
tual education is not possible. No intellectual nor cultural attain 
ments may serve as a substitute for virtue; on the contrary the 
more thorough intellectual education becomes, all the greater is 
the need for proper moral development. Moral education and reli 
gious education are inseparable, and religion may not form simply 
one of many subjects taught in a school. It must permeate the in 
struction in other subjects and should consist not merely in the 
teaching of the dogmas of faith and the precepts of divine law, 
but must also be a training in the exercises of religion prayer, 
attendance at divine worship, and reception of the sacraments. 
Since Catholic schools are the only ones that fully provide these 
conditions for Catholic children, Catholics both ecclesiastics 
and the laity must strive everywhere and always to establish such 
schools in obedience to the mandate laid upon them all. 

3. A system of education which unites the intellectual^ moral 

Catholic Education 2 67 

and religious elements upon the basis of divinely revealed truth, 
also insures the performance of social duties and inculcates a spirit 
of law and order. Therefore, the most effectual preparation for 
good citizenship is a schooling that enables a man to uphold or 
oppose a social movement, or a man-made law because it is right 
or wrong, just or unjust, when measured by the laws established 
by God, and entrusted to His Church for the guidance of hu 
manity. Hence, no damage can come to any State from the 
Christian education of youth by the family and Church; on the 
contrary, it is clear that civil society derives the greatest benefits 
therefrom. From this fact flows the consequence that it is the 
duty of the State to protect in its civil enactments the natural 
rights of the family as regards the education of its offspring, and 
the supernatural rights of the Church in the realm of the Christian 
education of youth. 

Passing on from the fundamental considerations, let us call at 
tention briefly to the Church's past accomplishments in the field of 
education, which in the western world for many centuries was 
entirely entrusted to her supervision. In the first centuries of the 
Christian era, great stress was laid on the importance of education 
in the home, the only influence to counteract the effects of the 
teaching of pagan schools. Gradually there sprang up private 
schools for Christian youth, taught by Christians. When in the 
fourth century monasticism developed as a protest against pagan 
influence and standards of living, it began at once to fill the ed 
ucational needs of the time. The State schools of the Roman Em 
pire were falling into decay, and although the monastery and 
episcopal schools were both instituted for the purpose of training 
the members of religious orders and of the clergy, neither declined 
from the beginning to admit secular scholars. Parochial schools, 
too, were created at an early period, and although their original 
purpose was to foster vocations to the priesthood, the Council of 
Vaison (529) stipulated that their pupils were not to be denied 
the right to marry when they reached the proper age should they 
decide that they were not destined for the clerical state. 

However the main burden of lay education in the early Middle 
Ages was borne by the monasteries, generally divided into in 
ternal and external schools, the first for novices, future members 
of the order, the second for the children of the villagers and 
nobility. Young girls at the same time were received into convents 


for their general education and in many countries open schools 
were held by the nuns for the use alike of rich and poor. At a 
very early period we find the monasteries giving in their out- 
schools for the laity instruction in the seven liberal arts, the read 
ing of Latin authors, and music; the monks likewise taught medi 
cine, agriculture, building and decorative arts. These schools 
were conducted by organized bodies of teachers, who had with 
drawn from the world to devote their whole lives, from a higher 
motive, to literary and educational work. There are many docu 
ments to prove that this instruction was given free of charge and 
poorer students were even maintained at the expense of the monas 
tery or by gifts made to them for this purpose by bishops and 

In addition, we find already existing in the eighth century 
cathedral schools, run by the clergy of the cathedral church un 
der the direct control of the bishop, and "canonicate" schools run 
by the canons of the local church in towns and cities where there 
was no cathedral. These were divided into elementary and higher 
schools and their program and methods greatly resembled those 
employed in the monasteries. Guild schools, hospital schools and 
city schools, the last dating from the thirteenth century, were all 
under ecclesiastical control, encouraged and supported by the 
Church and hierarchy. The Council of Rome, held in 853, ordained 
that all bishops should maintain "in every episcopal residence, 
among the populations subject to them, and in all places where 
there is such need," masters to instruct in literary studies and the 
seven liberal arts. Moreover the zeal of ecclesiastical rulers was up 
held and greatly assisted by civil authorities. Such powerful 
princes as Theodoric in Italy, Alfred in England and Charle 
magne in the Prankish Kingdom joined their authority to that of 
bishop and council in procuring adequate instruction for both 
clergy and laity under the supervision of the Church. 

The revival of Greek philosophy after the "Dark Ages" and the 
development of scholasticism produced distinct advances in educa 
tional methods. Under such doctors as Thomas Aquinas and 
Albertus Magnus what was best in pagan culture and science was 
united in a consistent whole with the Christian doctrine; by a sys 
tem based on logical reasoning and accurate norms a synthesis 
was effected of the highest products of Greek thought and the 
teachings of Christian theology. The same spirit of inquiry led to 

Catholic Education 269 

the founding of the great universities. Popes and secular rulers co 
operated. Teaching all the known branches of art and science, 
university education was made available both to ecclesiastical and 
to lay students. The medieval university was the expression of 
the Church's educational theories in all their completeness: a 
harmonious unity in which philosophy and theology walked hand 
in hand, in which scientific truth and all culture were eagerly 
pursued for a high end: the perfection of man and the glory of 

Through certain exaggerations placed by the Renaissance on 
pagan culture, this unity was weakened, and the individualistic 
teachings of the Reformation brought about the gradual sec 
ularization of learning. Universities, lost to the Church, changed 
their ideals, systems, and methods. Philosophy was detached from 
theology, and science was declared sufficient to itself. The positive 
teachings of Christianity were replaced by new theories of life, 
and for the last three centuries outside of Catholic institutes the 
tendency has been to place education on a purely naturalistic 

The loss of the universities, the confiscation of monastic 
property, and the opposition of governments, added immeasur 
ably to the burdens of the Church in the educational field. Never 
theless, she still sought to carry on her work through insistence 
on a thorough education of the clergy in the seminaries and the 
establishment and development by her bishops and priests of pa 
rochial schools. Following the Reformation, special religious or 
ders both of men and women were founded for the education of 
youth among which we might particularly point to the Jesuits 
and the codification of the Ratio Stztdiorum, an amalgam of the 
best educational ideas of the period. There arose in almost every 
country of the world a distinctly Catholic system of education 
parish schools, academies and certain universities which either had 
remained under the control of the Church or were established at 
a later period by the Holy See. 

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as 
many governments made serious attempts to eliminate illiteracy, 
the State began to exercise a more complete control over educa 
tion than before. Education became compulsory, free, and regi 
mented, and religion was generally eliminated from the curriculum 
of the schools. In answer to this the Church built up an independ- 


ent free school system of astonishing size and efficiency, and es 
pecially in English-speaking countries the parochial schools were 

Today a number of governments recognize the right of the 
Church to conduct schools; some few include religious instruction 
in State schools; in still others, and especially those under Com 
munist control, Catholic schools have been hampered, perse 
cuted, and in many cases suppressed. Christian education is a con 
stant preoccupation of the Holy See and a matter that figures 
prominently in concordats with various nations negotiated by 
the modern Popes. 

Catholic Education in the United States 
The organization of Catholic education necessarily differs in 
detail in various countries in accordance with governmental atti 
tudes and local economic and cultural conditions, but we consider 
the Catholic schools in the United States as functioning in general 
in a manner satisfactory to the aspirations of the Church. Above 
all the freedom of the family to send children to denominational 
schools is upheld by the law of the United States. Catholics do call 
attention to the fact that in justice they have the right to com 
pensation for the expense involved in setting up their own schools 
and in giving education in citizenship; in other words their argu 
ment is based on the claim that if secular education is given in 
parochial schools to the satisfaction of State authorities, the 
schools should be compensated by the State in the same manner 
as the public schools. But as this contention is unrecognized, Amer 
ican Catholics have set up at great sacrifice and cost an independent 
system of parochial schools unsupported fay the State. 

As schools established and administered by private corpora 
tions or individuals, Catholic schools are legally separated from 
the public school system although they are subject in most places 
to some degree of regulation by civil authorities. The U. S. 
Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment of the Con 
stitution prohibits the use of public funds to support denomina 
tional schools, but denominational schools are not taxed. In recent 
years the efforts of Catholic authorities have been centered on 
securing federal or State aid for auxiliary school services, Le. 
school buses, health services, the purchase of non-religious text 
books. Although it has been contested by others, the Catholic 

Catholic Education 271 

position is that in these matters no violation of the Constitution is 
implied in extending to children in Catholic schools the benefits 
guaranteed to children in public schools. 

It should be added that State authorities in a majority of cases 
are more cooperative than the Federal government in granting 
auxiliary school services to non-public school children. It must 
also be noted that public and non-public school students have 
shared alike in the benefit of the G.I. Bill. The same equity exists 
in federal legislation authorizing loans to private as well as public 
colleges for the purpose of building faculty and student housing. 

Catholics are not alone in recognizing the need of moral and 
religious education of children in schools administered under their 
supervision. Other religious bodies more or less carry out the same 
procedure. In this country orthodox Jews and various Christian 
denominations maintain schools and colleges and, of course, ec 
clesiastical seminaries. 

The position of the Church in establishing and maintaining 
Catholic schools for the use of Catholics does not imply a con 
demnation of public schools in so far as they answer the purpose 
for which these are established. So far as citizenship and patriotism 
are concerned, Catholic children are instructed in their civic du 
ties in the same way as in public schools. 1 In general the curricu 
lum of Catholic schools includes the same subjects as those 
taught in the public schools and in addition they teach religion 
and religious morality. 

The history of Catholic education in this country finds hier 
archy, clergy, religious orders, and faithful active in this field from 
the beginning of our history as a nation, and antedating this to 
colonial times. For a brief time following the American Revolu 
tion, Archbishop Carroll entertained the hope that Catholics could 
unite with their non-Catholic compatriots in building up a school 
system that would be mutually acceptable from the point of view 
of religion. It was not long before he realized the futility of this 

1 In the U. S ; there has been in existence for some years a Commission 
on American Citizenship to supervise the teaching of this subject and the 
educational standards of Catholic schools, particularly in the teaching of social 
sciences. Founded and directed from the Catholic University of America, co 
operating committees have been formed of diocesan superintendents of 
schools, and supervisors of social sciences in various dioceses. The curricu 
lum, Guiding Growth in Christian Social Living, drawn up and published 
by the commission, is used as a source in many dioceses- in others it forms 
the basis for local research and teacher training. 


hope, and after the first Catholic synod held in 1792 he addressed 
a pastoral letter to the Catholics of the country, in which he 
stressed a "pious Catholic education for the young in order to in 
sure their growing up in the faith." At that time he expressed the 
hope that the graduates of Georgetown would cooperate in the 
matter of the religious instruction of their fellow Catholics. 

As early as 1829 when the American bishops met in Baltimore 
for the First Provincial Council, they declared: "We judge it ab 
solutely necessary that schools should be established in which the 
young may be taught the principles of faith and morality, while 
being instructed in letters. 57 Despite a large number of already 
existing schools founded by the Spanish, French and English mis 
sionaries and settlers who had brought Catholic education as well 
as the Faith to our land, this decision gave impetus to a develop 
ment that steadily proceeded until 1884. At that time the Third 
Plenary Council of Baltimore promulgated the law: "Near every 
church where there is no parochial school one shall be established 
within two years after the promulgation of this Council, and shall 
be perpetually maintained, unless the bishop for serious reasons 
sees fit to allow delay. 

"All parents shall be bound to send their children to a paro 
chial school, unless it is evident that such children obtain a suffi 
cient Christian education at home, or unless they attend some 
other Catholic school or unless, for sufficient cause approved by 
the Bishop, with proper cautions and remedies duly applied, they 
attend another school. It is left to the Ordinary to decide what 
constitutes a Catholic school." 

The Fathers of the Council could never have foreseen the 
magnitude of the development in parochial schools that was to 
take place in the following thirty-five years. Yet in 1919 a pastoral 
letter to the American hierarchy reiterated the necessity in our 
country of maintaining "a system of education distinct and sepa 
rate from other systems" and restated: i) the right of the child to 
receive education and the correlative duty of providing it; 2) the 
necessity of the harmonious development of physical, intellectual 
and moral capacities; 3) that moral training must accord the first 
place to religion; 4) that moral and religious training is most effi 
cacious when joined with instruction in other kinds of knowledge; 
and 5) that an education that linked intellectual, moral and reli 
gious elements is the best training for citizenship. 

Catholic Education 273 

The letter concluded: "Our Catholic schools are not estab 
lished and maintained with any idea of holding our children apart 
from the general body and spirit of American citizenship. They 
are simply the concrete form in which we exercise our rights as 
free citizens, in conformity with the dictates of conscience." 

In no other country over the years has the Church succeeded 
in establishing such a vast network of Catholic schools. There are 
at present around 4,700,000 students carrying on their work in the 
various institutions of the formal school system under the Church's 
auspices. It is impossible to make a general statement concerning 
the comparative efficiency of Church and public schools, as con 
ditions vary from place to place, yet the value of Catholic education 
has been widely recognized and in examinations open to all students 
the pupils of Catholic schools have attained a notable success. 

On one great moral issue the Catholic schools have provided a 
stirring example for public institutions. Long before the Supreme 
Court decision of May 1954, Catholic elementary and high 
schools in many parts of the country where segregation was 
firmly entrenched, quietly opened their doors to Negroes. 
Twenty-five Catholic colleges, schools and seminaries had de 
segregated before 1954 in such places as Mississippi, Louisiana and 
Washington, D. C. 

The largest contribution to Catholic education in the United 
States has been made by men and women belonging to the reli 
gious communities. The first complete report on Catholic educa 
tion (for the 1951-2 school year), issued in Washington by the 
Department of Education, National Catholic Welfare Conference, 
showed the nation's Catholic schools staffed by 123,386 teachers 
of whom 101,216 belonged to religious orders and congregations. 
Many of these religious orders have several thousand members in 
the schools of this country, others have less than a hundred. Lay 
teachers in Catholic schools constitute at present about 19% of the 
total number of teachers employed. These laymen and laywomen 
have a definite place to fill in the scheme of Catholic education: 
colleges and universities especially have need of teachers with cer 
tain types of professional and scientific training. In general they 
too make great financial sacrifices, salaries rarely attaining the 
same level as those paid by secular institutions aided by large en 
dowments. Over the last twenty years this condition has im 
proved, a strong movement among Catholic educators having as 


its object the securing of adequate salaries for Catholic lay teach 
ers so that professors of exceptional ability may be secured for 
Catholic colleges. Recent grants by the Ford Foundation for the 
purpose of increasing faculty salaries in a large number of col 
leges, secular and denominational, have given notable aid to Cath 
olic institutions of higher learning. 

In Catholic elementary and high schools, however, it is largely 
through the sacrificing life of Catholic men and women, religious 
and lay persons, that it is possible to maintain the cost of schooling 
in a parochial school at under one-third of that in a public school. 
The schools themselves are either free or pay, the tuition fees in 
the latter being paid to the head of the school. The free schools, 
by far the greatest in number, are supported from the parish treas 
ury, and even where small tuition fees may be counted upon, it is 
usually necessary for the parish to provide part of the school ex 
penses. Catholic children are rarely denied entrance into a paro 
chial school for inability to pay tuition and although they are still 
faced with the necessity of buying books, most frequently some 
arrangement is made in the case of poor children to bear this ex 
pense also. 

The Catholic educational system in this country extends from 
the kindergarten period through graduate studies and into the 
various activities of adult education, There are also religious in 
struction classes and vacation schools for children who do not at 
tend Catholic schools, and other types of educational institutions, 
such as those for the training of the blind, mentally deficient and 
orphan or dependent children. 

In 1956, according to the Official Catholic Directory, a total of 
9,274 parochial elementary schools had an enrollment of 3,616,464 
pupils, while there were 92,565 pupils in 498 private elementary 
schools. The Catholic elementary schools are organized within 
each diocese, which formulates its own laws and policies. The 
bishop, who is in direct control, is officially represented by the 
diocesan superintendent of schools or a secretary of education. 
Usually this superintendent or secretary is a priest of the diocese 
who has special training in educational theory and practice; it is 
his duty to inspect the schools, confer with the diocesan and com 
munity supervisors, direct the program of studies for the diocese, 
organize its educational resources, control the personnel of the 

Catholic Education 275 

teaching force and see that it keeps abreast of modern educational 

The community supervisors are members of religious teach 
ing orders who study the teaching work done in their respective 
orders and report on it to their religious superiors. These reli 
gious, men and women, are teachers of many years' experience, 
familiar with the needs of the schools of the locality and with the 
personal qualifications and fitness of the members of their order. 
Collaborating with the diocesan superintendent of the schools and 
the pastors of the parishes in which they carry on their work, 
they are of great assistance in the reorganization of courses of 
study, in the selection of textbooks and in personnel adjustments 
in the various schools under their supervision. 

The Catholic elementary schools are usually run by the mem 
bers of a particular religious order who act both as principal and 
teachers. They are prepared for their work by teacher education 
quite as adequate as that given in State colleges for teachers, and it 
cannot be complained that they do not keep up with the develop 
ments of educational theory. The large attendance of religious, 
both men and women, at summer schools and university extension 
courses throughout the country bears witness to their professional 
spirit and anxiety to bring the best educational theory and practice 
available to the training of children in the Catholic schools. 

The parish elementary school is at the very core of the Catho 
lic educational system in the United States, the training of the 
child's early habits and attitudes being considered essential in 
forming a Catholic outlook upon life. The Church has thrown the 
greatest amount of pressure upon bishops and priests in the matter 
of erecting and enlarging elementary schools. 

In recent years the increase in secondary schools has also been 
particularly notable. From 1920 until 1947, when the survey was 
made under the auspices of the Department of Education of the 
National Catholic Welfare Conference, the number of junior and 
senior high schools had increased 36% from 1,552 to 2,111 in 
number; the pupils from 129,848 to 467,039. In 1956 there were 
2,383 secondary schools in the United States under Catholic aus 
pices with a student population of 672,299. 

The secondary schools are also under the control of the bishop 
of each diocese, who is officially represented in the same way as in 


the elementary schools by a superintendent of schools or a secre 
tary of education. A movement to group the Catholic high school 
students of various city parishes into central high schools is prov 
ing more efficient and economical in many places than the upkeep 
of a number of smaller high schools functioning separately. In 
general the private academies and many parish high schools are 
supported by tuition fees, often supplemented by parish funds 
set aside for this purpose. The central high schools are supported 
by the diocese or by the parish to which the student belongs. Most 
Catholic high schools give a four year course, although the separa 
tion of junior and senior high schools as we find it in the East and 
Middle West corresponds to the same separation we find in the 
system of the public schools. Their curriculum includes the same 
subjects as are taught in the corresponding public schools. 

There are also in the United States 259,277 men and women in 
259 colleges and universities under the Church's control. Al 
though the humanities are stressed in these colleges, many of them 
offer professional courses in business administration, architecture, 
engineering, medicine, journalism, library science, social work, 
education and other areas. Catholic colleges in general conform to 
the requirements of the regional accrediting agencies and the re 
quirements for admission to the graduate schools are kept on the 
level of acceptable standards everywhere. Of late years the pro 
gram of colleges has been under close scrutiny for the purpose of 
giving greater unity and purpose to undergraduate studies and to 
ward a better integration of secular subjects with religion, phi 
losophy and theology. 

As we have noted earlier, it is in the colleges and universities 
that the lay teacher is particularly in demand, and in 1952 the 
faculties of these institutions were reported as 59.7% of the total 
teaching staff. There is every reason to believe that the number 
has grown since then. 

In addition to colleges and universities the Catholic system in 
cludes a number of diocesan teachers' colleges and schools for 
professional and cultural teacher education. There are at present 
twenty-five such institutions with 6,094 students attending them. 

At the summit of the Church's educational efforts in this coun 
try are the nation's 83 diocesan seminaries and the 417 seminaries 
and scholasticates of religious orders. As some details regarding 

Catholic Education 277 

the training of the clergy will be given at the end of this chapter, 
nothing further will be said of them here. 

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine 

Although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, some estimate 
there are between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 Catholic students in 
public elementary schools; perhaps another 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 
in public high schools and some 375,000 Catholic students in secu 
lar colleges. 

Whatever the reasons for this may be and it must be ad 
mitted that Catholic parochial schools, particularly on the second 
ary level, are still economically impossible in many areas the 
Church does not neglect the religious education of children who 
attend public schools. Those in elementary grades are instructed 
in their religion after school, on Saturday or Sunday, or on re 
leased time. On the high school level they usually receive instruc 
tion on a weekday evening, although many parishes now give in 
struction on released time granted to high school students by 
the public schools. Many States permit pupils to leave their schools 
during school hours to attend religious classes held off the prem 
ises, although they are released only at the request of their parents 
and public school authorities merely provide for their dismissal 
and do not take part in the program. 

This program falls in general under the care of the Confra 
ternity of Christian Doctrine, a worldwide apostolate organized 
on parochial, diocesan and national lines. In 1905 Pope Pius X 
decreed the canonical establishment of the Confraternity in every 
diocese of the Catholic Church, and in 1917 this decree was in 
corporated into the Code of Canon Law. In the United States the 
Confraternity cooperates with the parish clergy under the guid 
ance of a committee of bishops, and its national center is a bureau 
of the National Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington. 

In addition to providing for the religious education of public 
school children, the objectives of the Confraternity of Christian 
Doctrine are religious instruction in vacation schools, instruction 
classes and correspondence courses; discussion clubs for adult 
groups, including students in secular colleges and universities, or 
for working youth; the religious education of children by parents 
in the home; the instruction of non-Catholics in the teachings of 


the Faith. The work of the Confraternity constitutes a vital pro 
gram carried on in part by means of national congresses and more 
frequent regional conferences which discuss new problems, new 
materials, and new techniques for religious instruction. Since 1939 
these conferences have been held by twenty of the twenty-two 
ecclesiastical provinces of the United States and have been partici 
pated in by hierarchy, priests, religious and laity, Eighty-three 
dioceses have canonically erected the Confraternity in all parishes, 
and one hundred and twenty-five have appointed a diocesan di 
rector for this work. 

Summer leadership courses to prepare the laity, teaching sis 
ters and brothers for the work of the Confraternity are held for 
six weeks each year at the Catholic University of America and 
affiliated extension colleges in cooperation with the National Cen 
ter. The Confraternity's publications department has developed 
many teaching aids adapted to the religious needs of public school 
children. In recent years the standard Baltimore Catechism (a 
graded series of four volumes) and the Challoner-Rheims version 
of the entire New Testament and a number of books of the Old 
Testament have been revised under the auspices of the Confra 

U. S. Educational Organizations and Agencies 
Chief of those organizations devoted to the promotion of the 
principles and interests of Catholic education in this country is the 
National Catholic Educational Association, founded in 1904 as 
the result of national meetings of Catholic colleges and seminaries 
which began in 1897. Including both individuals and institutions 
as members, it is now a voluntary organization of seven depart 
ments devoted to the interests of: major seminaries, minor semi 
naries, colleges and universities, secondary schools, school super 
intendents, elementary schools and special education. To these 
departments have been added two sections: one for vocations and 
another for the chaplains of Newman Clubs in secular colleges. 
The Association holds annual meetings and at each problems 
are discussed and important papers read; the volumes of its pro 
ceedings incorporate material of interest to every Catholic educa 
tor. Interesting developments have stemmed from these meetings, 
as from that of the 1952 convention in Kansas City which gave 
rise to the Sister Formation Conference. This venture undertaken 

Catholic Education 279 

by the major orders of teaching nuns in the United States aims at 
nothing less than a complete revolution in the recruitment and 
training of religious teachers for Catholic schools. It has the sup 
port of the bishops and has won the aid of the Fund for the Ad 
vancement of Teaching of the Ford Foundation. 

The N.C.EA. publishes a quarterly bulletin and sends out a 
newsletter to all members. Its various departments have other 
publications devoted to their special interests. The Association 
sponsored the beginnings of the Catholic Commission on Inter 
national and Cultural Affairs and closely follows the UNESCO 
program. It also cooperates with the staff of the U. S. Office of 
Education as well as with other government agencies. Its mem 
bers take an active part in general educational meetings and pro 
grams such as those of the American Council on Education and 
the Association of American Colleges. 

The Department of Education of the National Catholic Wel 
fare Conference, established in 1919, functions in the capacity of 
an advisory agency in the development of Catholic schools. It 
possesses no control over them, as the school system is independ 
ent in each diocese, but it compiles educational statistics and in 
formation for Catholics and the general public; acts as a connect 
ing agency between Catholic educational activities and govern 
mental organizations; promotes Catholic school participation in 
national and international affairs. It also arranges special programs 
for the exchange of students and teachers with foreign countries. 

There are many other organizations which further the educa 
tional work of the Church. It is impossible to go into them here, 
but mention should be made of such organizations as the national 
educational associations of the Jesuits, the Benedictines and the 
Franciscans, also of the Catholic Library Association which has 
done so much to forward the reading programs in schools on all 
levels. Reference should also be made to the Liturgical Confer 
ence which sponsors the important Liturgical Week held annually 
under Benedictine auspices at Collegeville, Minnesota, to further 
an important phase of Catholic education in the United States. 


The Church has always concerned itself deeply with the moral 
and intellectual formation of its clergy, but the method of this 
formation has differed at various periods and in various parts of 


the world. It is safe to say, however, that since the Council of 
Trent the seminary has been the normal means for the education 
of the clergy. So far as the secular clergy are concerned, it is a 
canon of the present code that every bishop should erect a semi 
nary or college, in accordance with the means and requirements 
of his diocese, where a certain number of young men are to be 
educated for the clerical state. If he is not able to go to this ex 
pense he must send his students to an outside seminary, unless 
there is an interdiocesan or provincial seminary erected by the 
Holy See. If the bishop has no proper means or revenue for the 
maintenance of a seminary and its students, he can order pastors 
and rectors of churches to take up at stated times a collection for 
the purpose; he can impose a seminary tax; or if these two courses 
are not sufficient, he can annex some simple benefices to the semi 

The bishop has the principal authority not only in the erection 
but in the government of his seminary. He must follow closely its 
administration and progress, reporting at regular intervals to the 
Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities; 2 he must 
visit the seminary frequently, watch over the manner in which 
secular and ecclesiastical sciences are taught, and obtain personal 
knowledge of the vocation and character and standing in studies 
of the pupils, especially at the time of ordination. 

At the head of every seminary there must be a rector for the 
government of the house, professors, an econormts (distinct from 
the rector) to administer the temporal goods, two ordinary con 
fessors and a spiritual director. All owe obedience to the rector 
in the exercise of his functions and the latter should watch that 
the professors properly attend to the duties of their office. More 
over, the canon code recommends that all these offices be held by 
men outstanding both for knowledge of doctrine and for virtue 
and prudence of character. 

The bishop is likewise aided in the administration of semi 
naries by two commissions, one for discipline, the other for the 
temporal arrangements, each composed of two priests chosen by 
the bishop with the advice of the chapter or of the diocesan con- 
suitors. The members of these commissions are nominated for six 

2 This Congregation has jurisdiction over all seminaries except religious 
houses of study, in territories not subject to the Congregation for the Propa 
gation of the Faith or to the Congregation of the Oriental Church. 

Catholic Education 281 

years and may be reappointed. Their role is only consultative but 
their advice must be requested in all important matters. By an ex 
ception to this rule, Benedict XV permitted the Sulpician Society 
to administer seminaries, under certain conditions, without the aid 
of these commissions. 

The bishop may receive into the seminary only those applicants 
whose good character and intentions admit the belief that they will 
persevere and succeed in the sacred ministry. Should the student 
come from another seminary or a religious house, the bishop should 
obtain information regarding him from his former superiors and 
the reasons for his dismissal or transfer. 

Students of the lower grades of the seminary should be in 
structed first in religion; then a thorough study of Latin and of 
their own language and instructions in other subjects correspond 
ing to the general culture of their respective countries. In the 
higher seminary the course of philosophy, together with allied 
subjects, must last two years; the regular theological course re 
quires five. The students must receive instruction in dogmatic and 
moral theology, in Sacred Scripture, Church history, canon law, 
liturgy^ sacred eloquence and ecclesiastical chant. To these 
courses are added lectures on pastoral theology, with practical in 
structions on how to teach catechism to children and adults, to 
hear confessions, visit the sick and assist the dying. 

Canon law also enters into details concerning the interior piety 
and moral formation of the seminary students. It indicates the 
minimum of pious exercises and prayer: every day the student 
must take part in common morning and night prayers, and in 
meditation and assistance at Mass; there is confession once a week, 
and the frequent reception of Holy Communion; and on Sundays 
and holydays, assistance at solemn Mass and Vespers; finally they 
are required to participate in the other sacred ceremonies of the 
Church, especially in the diocesan cathedral, if, in the opinion of 
the bishop, discipline and studies do not suffer thereby. 

The regular clergy, or priests in religious orders and congrega 
tions, secular institutes, and societies of common life are usually 
trained in the seminaries or houses of study of their orders or 
congregations. Comprising about half of the Catholic clergy of 
the world the general system of training of these clergy was also 
imposed by the Council of Trent in 1562, and like the training of 
secular priests affected by subsequent papal ordinances and de- 


crees and especially the Code of Canon Law of 1917. In 1945 a 
special group or commission under the supervision of the Sacred 
Congregation of Seminaries and Universities was appointed to deal 
with questions relative to the training of religious priests. This 
commission's recommendations were embodied in a comprehensive 
program and on May 31, 1956, Pope Pius XII, in his apostolic 
constitution Sedes Sapientiae and the general statutes appended to 
it, passed important laws regarding the training of candidates for 
the priesthood in religious institutes, unifying the requirements of 
their formation and stressing the attention to be given their intel 
lectual and pastoral education. 

The Roman colleges are, generally speaking, those seminaries 
where young men of the same nationality or of the same religious 
order reside during the period of preparation for the priesthood. 
The student body is usually made up of the most promising young 
aspirants to holy orders and are sent by their bishops or superiors 
to study under the exceptional conditions that can be found in 
Rome alone. As they serve in a certain measure to keep up in the 
various countries of the world that spirit of loyal attachment to 
the Holy See which is the basis of unity, the Sovereign Pontiffs 
have at all times encouraged the founding of these colleges, and 
the Propaganda has maintained the Urban College where students 
of every nation are received until such time as they are numerous 
enough and conditions are ripe to found a separate national in 

The Roman colleges are, then, halls of residence where stu 
dents follow the same regime as in a seminary at home exercises 
of piety, study in private and review of subjects treated in class. 
Some of the colleges have special courses of instruction, especially 
in languages and liturgical music, but as a rule the students from 
all the national groups follow regular courses in philosophy and 
theology given at the central institution of the Propaganda, and 
the Gregorian University, the Roman Seminary and the Angeli- 

Many nations, of course, have their colleges at Rome, 3 while 
nearby all parts of the world which are unrepresented by national 
colleges have students at the Propaganda. So is the universal mis 
sion of Christianity at once symbolized and actualized. At Rome, 
as in all the countries from which the students come, and in all 

3 See Ch. i, p. 16. 

Catholic Education 283 

branches of the education given by or under the influence of the 
Church, that education, while neglecting no subjects or methods 
by means of which intelligence is developed, knowledge acquired, 
and character formed, places one subject supremely above all 
others, namely, the subject of the life and the lessons of that 
Teacher, Jesus Christ, who alone could say, "I am the Way, the 
Truth, and the Life." 


THE LITURGY is the visible, concrete means of binding 
all members of the Church together, not only in so far as it rules 
their conduct in all forms of official worship of God which is 
one of the chief duties of the Church as a whole and of each mem 
ber of the Church individually but because it also tends to unify 
and direct the actions of Catholics in all the highly diversified 
fields of daily life in which they are engaged. The liturgy is es 
sentially the Church in action; the Church performing its function 
of service, the service of God. Therefore, all the members of the 
Church, both the official servants of the Church and the laity 
when participating in the liturgy, are accomplishing that act which 
is the foundation for all the other acts of Catholics. 

The word itself "liturgy" is derived from a Greek compound 
originally meaning a public duty a service of the State under 
taken by a citizen. It gradually began more specifically to mean 
the public service of the Temple, and at last the religious sense 
predominated, and was applied especially to the function of the 
priests, the ritual service of the Temple. The Old Testament, in 
the Greek translation, used the word in this sense. In the New 
Testament this meaning became definitely established. In the 
Christian churches of the East, however, the word "liturgy" is 
restricted to the chief official service of the Church the sacrifice 
of the Holy Eucharist, which the Western Church calls the 
Mass. But the Western Church with which we are concerned in 
all but one chapter of this book uses "liturgy" to denote all the 

The Liturgy 

rites, official services, ceremonies, prayers and forms of the sac 
raments of the Church as distinguished from private devotions. 
There are even many ceremonies, devotional exercises, and set 
prayers offered by the Church or conducted by her official minis 
ters which are not considered liturgical. The rosary, for example, 
even when recited in a Church and led by a priest, is not liturgical. 
Neither is benediction of the Blessed Sacrament nor novenas re 
cited in a church. 

Although mental and private prayer is held in high esteem by 
Catholics, and is encouraged by the hierarchy, the fundamental 
concept of the Church calls for exterior as weU as interior expres 
sion, public as well as private prayer, under the guidance of its 
appointed heads. The liturgy, to repeat, is the official and public 
worship that the Church renders to God. Thus, in order that, in 
the words of St. Benedict, "God may be adored in all things" she 
had drawn up rules for every detail of public worship specifica 
tions of time and place, the books to be used, the formulas of 
prayers, the sacred chant. And because the ceremonies of the 
Church are performed in public in the midst of the faithful and 
in the name of all and for all (because the Communion of Saints is an 
article of the Catholic creed), it follows that the organization and 
accomplishment of these rites are not of interest to priests alone. 
They intimately concern the laity as well. 

Therefore, the modern Liturgical Movement, to which we will 
later refer, far from being a mere esthetic revival or an awakening 
of Kstorical interest in ecclesiastical rites, ceremonies and art 
(deeply as art and historical studies are concerned in it), is the 
reaffirmation of the dogmatic truth, instinctive in every true Cath 
olic no matter what his esthetic and scholarly training or back 
ground may be, that public worship is the primary and indis 
pensable source of the true Christian spirit. Hence active partici 
pation in public worship, in particular in the sacrifice of the Mass, 
is necessary for the life of the Christian soul and for the com 
munication of that Christ-life to the souls of others. 

The Church traces the origins of the liturgy back to Jesus 
Christ Himself. It was Christ who instituted the Mass and the 
sacraments, who laid down their first rules and charged the 
Church with their completion and adaptation to time and circum 
stance. Like the dogma revealed by Christ, the liturgy based upon 


that dogma is old but ever new, each century adding contributions 
which are but outgrowths of the original doctrine. The feasts and 
devotions of the Sacred Heart and of St. Joseph are, for instance, 
comparatively recent the incorporation of these feasts into the 
liturgical cycle are proof that the Church, far from combating 
modern devotions, strives only to regulate them and give them 
their due place in relationship to the official worship. 

The importance of the liturgy as a study is to ecclesiastics 
second only to dogmatic and moral theology. To the lay person, 
after learning the essential truths of his religion and the rules of 
Christian life, there is nothing more essential than an understand 
ing of the rites and formulas used by the Church in the Mass, the 
administration of the sacraments and in other forms of public 

The Catholic knows that there is nothing in the very least of 
the ceremonial observances and customs of the Church which is 
idle or insignificant. Each expresses some high spiritual truth or 
symbolizes some great principle or shadows forth some sacred 
mystery. They are filled also with memories of the history of man 
in his relations with God. The garments of the clergy, the sacred 
vessels, many of the ceremonies link those living today with the 
generations of old with the pre-Christian centuries, with the 
Greeks, the Romans, the Jews of the ancient Temple. They re 
call the catacombs and the first great persecutions, the primal 
martyrs and saints. The very color of the robes of the priest car 
ries its lesson. So in a hundred direct and a thousand indirect 
memorials and suggestions, the liturgy binds together the faithful 
of all ages, of all classes, nations, races, and conditions, not 
merely as spectators of the varied ceremonies of the Church but as 
participants in the action of a religion that is supra-national^ super- 
racial and universal. 

The principal subjects with which the liturgy is concerned, 
and which it defines and explains are: I) the Eucharistic sacrifice 
of the Mass, the center of the whole life of the Church; II) the 
other sacraments; III) the sacramentals; IV) the Divine Office; 
V) the liturgical year; VI) the liturgical books. As we have seen 
in an earlier chapter, "The Roman Congregations," the supreme 
direction and supervision of all these matters is in the hands of the 
Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome. 

The Liturgy 287 

I. The Mass 

In the Christian language of the Orient the liturgy means the 
Mass. If, in the Western Church, the word has taken on a more 
general sense, that Church still maintains that the Mass is the great 
est act of Christian worship, around which all other ceremonies 
have been formed and developed. And although the Eucharist is 
but one of the seven sacraments, there is a close connection be 
tween it and several of the others. 

The Mass has occupied this position as the central rite in all 
liturgies since the beginning of Christianity. Although in the 
various rites of the East and of the West it differs in language, in 
music, and certain forms, its essential elements are the same: the 
Epistle, the Gospel, the Offertory, the Preface, the Consecration, 
the Elevation and the Communion exist in all. Taking as a basis 
the Roman liturgy, common to some four hundred and eighty 
million Catholics throughout the world, let us examine some of 
the details of the great ceremony which Catholics believe to repre 
sent, to recall and to apply the sacrifice of Christ upon Calvary. 

In memory of those early times when only baptized Christians 
were permitted to attend the performance of the sacred mysteries 
the catechumens or persons under instruction withdrawing 
after the recital of the opening prayers of the Mass the cere 
mony today is divided into two parts known as: i) the Mass of 
Catechumens, and 2) the Mass of the Faithful. 

The Mass of the Catechumens may be subdivided as follows: 
i) Preparatory prayers; 2) Introit, Kyrie and Gloria; 3) Collect; 
4) Epistle, Gradual, Tract, Alleluia, Sequence; 5) Gospel, homily 
and announcements; 6) the Credo. 

To prepare the soul with the proper dispositions to approach 
the greater moments of the Holy Sacrifice, the Church first calls 
for the recitation of Psalm 42, or the Confiteor, and other in 
troductory prayers for pardon and purification. In the form that 
it is used today this formula of preparation dates only from the 
tenth century, but certain of its elements, notably the Confiteor 
and the prayer Aicfer a no bis (Take away from us our iniquities), 
are much older. In Masses for the dead and in Passion time, Psalm 
42 is omitted. 

The Introit, like the Epistle and Gospel, varies each day and 


corresponds to the feasts of the liturgical year. It consists usually 
of an anthem, the verse of a psalm and the Gloria Patri, although 
some Introits are drawn from other books of the Old and New 
Testaments and some few are not even from Sacred Scripture. 
The Kyrie is a short litany of Greek origin, and recalls the times 
when the faithful, headed by the Pope, went in procession to the 
station churches in Rome. At high Mass the altar is incensed dur 
ing the singing of the Introit and the Kyrie. The Gloria in 
excelsis is equally of Greek origin, and in the Occident was at 
first used only at midnight Mass on Christmas. Gradually extended 
to Sundays, feasts of martyrs and saints, it is now a part of every 
Mass except those in Advent and Lent, the penitential seasons. 

The Collect (coltecta, reunion) likewise recalls the primitive 
custom of repairing to the station churches where the celebrant 
of the Mass said a prayer which would serve as introduction to the 
liturgical functions. It is often accompanied by other prayers said, 
on their feasts, in honor of certain saints. 

The Epistle takes its name from the Epistles or letters of the 
Apostles, although they are sometimes taken from the Acts or, on 
rare occasions, from some book of the Old Testament. The 
Gradual, Tract, Alleluia and Sequence are different varieties of 
chant. The Gradual is a response, the Alleluia an anthem; the 
Tract and Sequence are chants without repetition or refrain. All 
are ordinarily taken from the Psalms, with the exception of the 
Sequences, which are of ecclesiastical composition. 

The Gospel is the extract from the New Testament, or the 
words of God, which in the Catholic Church is given great im 
portance as the text of the day. Great solemnity surrounded in 
early Rome the reading of the Gospel, and the customs there 
adopted are still used at solemn high Mass. Whereas the Epistle is 
always said at the left hand of the altar, the Gospel is said at the 
right a vestige of the primitive church construction when there 
were two pulpits or ambons in every church for the reading of 
the Epistle and Gospel. At solemn high Mass the deacon, preceded 
by the thurifer and acolytes with lighted candles, goes in proces 
sion to the left side of the sanctuary where the book is held for 
him, and here he chants the Gospel aloud. It is preceded and fol 
lowed by prayers recited in a low tone, prayers consisting of verses 
and responses of antique origin. The homily or sermon (originally 
an explanation of the Gospel) immediately follows the Gospel; in 

The Liturgy 289 

our churches today it is usually accompanied by announcements 
of the feasts of the week, parish activities, publications of banns of 
marriage and other communications from the pastor to the faithful. 

The Credo was introduced into the Mass as a protestation of 
faith in answer to the early heresies. The form now used, that 
adopted at the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople, dates from 
the fourth century. A full resume of the Catholic faith, it spread 
from Antioch to other places and was adopted by Rome around 
the year 1000. 

In primitive times; as we have said, immediately following 
the Gospel and homily, the catechumens and penitents were sent 
away from the place of sacrifice. The preparatory Mass was 
finished, and up until the fifth century, it was understood that all 
who remained would partake of Communion. The Mass of the 
Faithful was now about to begin, a second and entirely new 
ceremony. It even happened at times that the first part of the 
Mass was not followed by the Eucharistic sacrifice, and although 
no such custom has prevailed since the early centuries, traces of 
this division are still to be found in the liturgy. 

The second division of the Mass, its essential part, contains the 
sacrifice and Eucharistic banquet. It may likewise be grouped 
into six sub-divisions: i) Offertory and Lavabo; 2) Preface and 
Sanctus; 3) Canon; 4) Pater Noster and breaking of the Bread; 

5) Agnus Dei, kiss of peace, Communion and Postcommunion; 

6) Final prayers and he mssa est, or dismissal. Every Catholic 
knows that if he misses the Offertory or the Consecration (which 
occurs in the Canon), or the Communion, he has not assisted at 

Originally, at the Offertory the faithful themselves presented 
the bread, wine and other gifts to the priest. This is the origin of 
the collection of money which is made today at this part of the 
Mass. The faithful not only offer material gifts to God, but they 
associate themselves with the priest in the prayers offering sep 
arately each of the sacred species. At high and pontifical Masses 
the ceremonial in use today is very close to that of the fifth and 
sixth centuries. It begins with the Offertory prayer proper to each 
Mass, consisting of one or two verses of the Psalms or from other 
sources. Then the deacon, who has earlier placed the corporal on 
the altar, presents to the celebrant the paten holding the host which 
the priest offers to God the Father. He then pours the wine into 


the chalice; the subdeacon adds the water, and both are given to 
the priest who offers them in the same manner as the host. After the 
Offertory at solemn Masses the incensing of the altar is accom 
panied by a special prayer, while at the ablution of hands the priest 
recites Psalm 23, the Lavabo. The prayers of the Secret, which 
follow, correspond to the Collects, one is much like the other in 
sense, as they all beg God in some form to accept the offerings of 
the faithful and to grant in return spiritual strength and help. 

The Preface and the dialogue preceding it were originally con 
sidered a part of the Canon of the Mass, which does not begin 
today, however, until after the Sanctus. The text of the Preface 
varies with the liturgical season, there being at present twelve 
different forms. The Sanctus, as one of the canticles to Christ, was 
in use among the Christians of the first centuries even before its 
incorporation into the Mass. It is to be found in all the ancient 
liturgies, and with slight variations its first part is founded on a 
text of the prophet Isaias in his famous vision (Is. 6:1-3), whereas 
its second part, the Benedictus, is drawn from Psalm 1 1 7, applied 
on Palm Sunday to Our Lord as he rode into Jerusalem upon the 
eve of His Passion. "Hosanna" was a cry of joy and triumph 
among the Jews, and for use here the word has never been 
translated into Latin. The Sanctus is always sung at solemn Mass. 

The actual Canon of the Roman Mass is composed of a number 
of prayers closely bound to one another, corresponding to the acts 
and intention of the sacrifice. The Te igitw, or remembrance, 
begging God the Father to bless the offering, makes mention of 
the Church spread throughout the world, of the Pope, the bishops 
and all ministers; and the faithful in union with the Church. The 
Conwmmic antes has further reference to the spiritual society 
which is the Catholic Church, associating the prayers of the priest 
and faithful with the merits of the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles, 
and other saints. The words of the consecration are those used 
by Our Lord Himself at the Last Supper; and we may consider 
this part of the Mass as still existing in its apostolic form. The eleva 
tion of the host and chalice following their consecration were not 
customary prior to the twelfth century, but were introduced to 
emphasize the belief of the Roman Church in the efficacy of the 
words of consecration. The other prayers of the Canon are the 
Unde et memores, the Supra quae, the Supptices, the Memento 

The Liturgy 

of the dead, the final doxology and the second elevation which is 
connected with the Our Father. 

The presence of the Pater Nosier, or Lord's Prayer, in the 
Mass is quite natural when we consider in what honor it was 
held by the first Christians. It was introduced into the Canon by 
St. Gregory in the sixth century, which does not mean that he 
was the first to prescribe its use in the Mass itself. For centuries 
before it had been used as a preparation for Communion fol 
lowing the breaking, or fraction, of the host. It now precedes that 
ceremony, which consists in the separation of the consecrated 
host into three parts, one of which the priest places in the chalice 
saying: "May this commingling and consecrating of the Body and 
Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, avail us, who receive it, unto life 

The Agnus Dei was first introduced into the Mass by Pope 
Sergius in the eighth century. The three prayers following it, and 
which are considered as a preparation for the Communion, are not 
of so ancient origin. The following prayers are pleas for peace and 
mercy; in solemn Masses they are accompanied by the kiss of peace, 
a symbol of the fraternal charity and union that should reign 
among Christians. 

The priest celebrating the Mass communicates under both 
forms bread and wine. In the first centuries the people also re 
ceived in their hands the consecrated host and drank from the 
same chalice. The present custom of the faithful of the Latin 
Church communicating under the form of the host alone was 
introduced little by little into the West for reasons of convenience 
and practicality. It is but a question of discipline, since Catholics 
believe that Christ is equally present under each form. 

After the ablution of the chalice, to remove those particles of 
the host which may have adhered to the sides or to his fingers, 
the priest recites the Postcommunion, which is in reality a prayer 
of thanksgiving. 

Next the priest turns toward the people and having said, "The 
Lord be with you," announces the end of the eucharistic action in 
the words he mssa est, "Go, the Mass is ended." This is the real 
end of the Mass, but in the course of the centuries the custom 
arose of reciting the Last Gospel or Gospel of St. John. The 
Prayers recited after Mass at the foot of the altar are of recent 


institution, having been added by Pope Leo XIII. To these have 
been appended in recent years in certain places the prayer known 
as "the Divine Praises." 

A low or private Mass is one said by one priest in a low voice 
and without solemnity; the high or chanted Mass is celebrated 
with far more ceremony, the principal parts being sung and the 
celebrating priest usually being assisted by a deacon and sub- 
deacon; a Pontifical Mass is said by bishops or other high prelates 
and is celebrated with even more solemnity. It is therefore in 
the latter that we find the ancient rites most carefully observed. 
Wherever possible in every parish a high Mass must be celebrated 
every Sunday and on holydays. It is the official parochial or 
liturgical Mass and Catholics are urged and expected to attend it 
whenever possible. 

The ceremonies and actions accompanying the prayers of the 
Mass are as carefully prescribed as the prayers themselves. They 
are the subjects of the rubrics, so called because in liturgical books 
these directions are ordinarily printed in red to distinguish them 
from the text of the prayers which is in black. The gestures and 
attitudes of the priest are fixed at every place with the most 
minute care: the signs of the cross, genuflections and inclinations 
are regulated by precise rules. 

The vestments worn by the priest at Mass are likewise care 
fully prescribed, and they are put on in a given order and with 
special prayers for each. Neither is their color a matter of in 
difference. They are white for the feasts of Our Lord, the Blessed 
Virgin, the angels and of saints who were not martyrs; red for 
Trinity Sunday, the feasts of the Holy Ghost and martyrs; green 
on ordinary Sundays following Epiphany and Pentecost; purple 
during Advent and Lent and the three Sundays immediately pre 
ceding Lent, and on ember days and vigils; bkck in Masses for the 
dead. Rose-colored vestments are worn on only two days of the 
year: Laetare Sunday in Lent and Gaudete Sunday in Advent. 

Catholics are supposed to follow the Mass attentively, mentally 
uniting themselves with the priest in all that he says and does. 
Although pious reading and the recitation of the rosary and other 
prayers have in the past been permitted for children and un 
lettered persons who could not be expected to follow the liturgy 
and while these customs still exist they are not usually en 
couraged by the Church. Catholics are expected to provide them- 

The Liturgy 293 

selves with a missal or massbook and to follow exactly the 
ceremonies of the liturgy, uniting themselves consciously with the 
corporate action of the Church. 

Before leaving the subject* it may be well to say a few words 
concerning the devotions to the Blessed Sacrament outside the 
Mass (there is no question of Communion, since this act normally 
takes place during the Mass). In addition to the Holy Sacrifice, 
the Church carries on a liturgical cult of the Eucharist considered 
as a sacrament. It is reserved in every Catholic Church where It 
receives many evidences of public and private devotion. The bene 
diction of the Blessed Sacrament, however, is a non-liturgical 
ceremony, which made its appearance after the sixteenth century 
when Mass was no longer said in the afternoon or evening. It was 
originally united to Vespers or Compline, parts of the Divine 
Office which also has as its center the Sacrifice of the Mass. Thus 
we see that the Mass has the undisputed place of honor in the 
Catholic liturgy; all other ceremonies, even those which have as 
their center the Eucharist itself, are subordinated to it. 

IL The Sacraments 

Besides the Eucharist, the Catholic Church teaches that there 
are six other sacraments instituted by Christ for the sanctification 
of the faithful. 

The sacrament of B&ptism is the first to be received by any 
Catholic; the ceremonies surrounding it are of the most venerable 
origin. As the first converts to Christianity, consequently the first 
to be baptized, were generally adult pagans or Jews, it was 
necessary to give them instruction in the truths of the new faith. 
These persons under instructions were known as catechumens. 
Having had explained to them the Creed, the Our Father, and the 
Gospels, they were submitted to rites of purification, anointings 
and exorcisms. Baptism was usually administered on the eve of 
Easter or of Pentecost, and the main and essential rites consisted 
of the pouring of water on the head sometimes on the whole 
body in the name of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. 

Baptism as actually administered by the Church still retains 
many of the ancient forms. The pouring of the water on the head 
is the essential element. In addition the priest breathes upon the per 
son, child or adult, about to receive the sacrament, making upon 
him the sign of the cross & vestige of the ancient exorcism. Salt, 


the symbol of wisdom, is placed upon the tongue; the renuncia 
tion of Satan, his works and pomps (now made by the godfather 
and godmother in the case of a child) was used by the early 
Church, also the profession of Catholic faith. The same is true 
of the anointing with oil and chrism, also the laying on of the 
white veil, and the use of the burning candle symbols of purity 
and ardent faith. Although Baptism is now conferred throughout 
the entire year, traces of the ancient custom of conferring Baptism 
at stated times remain to us in the liturgies of Holy Saturday 
and the Saturday before Pentecost. The Epistles and Gospels 
throughout Lent are often addressed to catechumens and allude 
to Baptism. 

Due to the fact that in early times Baptism was usually con 
ferred on adults, the sacrament of Confirmation followed Baptism 
very closely, and the two rites were connected. Now that 
Baptism is conferred upon children as soon after birth as possible, 
whereas it is considered advisable to await the age of reason to 
administer Confirmation, the two are no longer so closely con 
nected in the ritual, although many of the prayers of the latter 
sacrament make reference to the earlier custom. For instance, in 
conferring Confirmation, the bishop, turning toward the persons 
to be confirmed, commences a brief invocation of the Holy Spirit 
and, extending his hands toward the Christians who are mentioned 
as having just emerged from the baptismal waters, thanks God for 
having regenerated and pardoned them; then he calls down the 
Holy Spirit with the plentitude of his gifts. The essential elements 
of the sacrament of Confirmation are the imposition of the hands, 
the anointing with holy chrism on the forehead in form of a cross, 
the prayers and benediction. The sacrament of Baptism is ad 
ministered by a priest in danger of death a lay person may 
baptize but ordinarily in the Latin Church it is the bishop who 
confirms, although there are some exceptions. 

Penmce or confession is, from the liturgical point of view, the 
simplest of the sacraments. It is essentially of a private nature and 
takes place secretly between the priest and the penitent. There is 
no matter analogous to the water, wine, bread or oil used in the 
other sacraments, no rites similar to ablution or anointing; only 
a confession of sin made by the penitent and a formula of forgive 
ness recited by the priest. A place for this purpose is set aside 
in every church, usually a place of two compartments separated 

The Liturgy 295 

by a screen in one of which the priest is seated and in the other the 
penitent kneels. Although Catholics ordinarily go to church at 
stated times when confessions are heard, for good and sufficient 
reasons the sacrament of Penance may be administered under no 
matter what conditions of time and place. 

The sacrament of Extreme Unction given to dying persons to 
prepare them for death has as its essential ceremony the anointing 
of the organs of the five senses with holy oil, accompanied by a 
special prayer for the forgiveness of sins committed by each. 
The ritual also provides prayers and devotions for the use of the 
sick and dying, and in order for the sick person to benefit fully 
from them while still possessed of strength and intelligence, the 
faithful are urged not to await the last moment to have recourse to 
Extreme Unction. 

The rites of Holy Orders, next to that of Baptism, have 
preserved the greatest number of their older elements. The order 
is one: that of the priesthood; but the priesthood includes degrees 
of hierarchy subdivided as follows: porters, lectors, exorcists, 
acolytes, subdeacons, deacons, priests. Every ordained priest has 
first received the four minor orders, but has seldom if ever exer 
cised their functions outside the seminary. The porter in churches 
today is usually a layman; readers and exorcists are always priests; 
while the acolyte is the boy or man who serves Mass. The sub- 
deacon, the first in major orders, reads the Epistle at high Mass and 
carries the chalice and host to the altar; he likewise pours several 
drops of water into the wine. The deacon reads the Gospel, pours 
the water into the chalice and touches the sacred vessels containing 
the Eucharist; he has the power to preach and to give Communion. 
The priest celebrates the Mass, explains the Holy Scripture that has 
been read and gives Communion. The bishop, who possesses orders 
in their fullness, celebrates the Mass pontifically; it is during the 
Mass that he ordinarily confers the minor and always the major 
orders, which is the reason that we find all the ordination cere 
monies in the book called the Pontifical. 

Theologians do not agree on the question of whether or not 
the minor orders are a sacrament. They may be so considered in 
so far as they are a necessary step to the major orders. The rite 
used in their administration is in broad outline as follows: the 
archdeacon having called by name each of those who are to be 
ordained, the bishop indicates to them the duties attached to the 


order he is about to confer upon them, and then places in their 
hands the objects or instruments which they are privileged to use: 
the porter receives the keys of the church: the lector the Book of 
Lessons; the exorcist, the book of exorcisms (for which the missal 
is usually substituted nowadays) ; the acolyte, the candlestick with 
the burning candle and the cruet he presents at the altar. Then 
the bishop blesses them and implores upon them grace worthily to 
perform their functions. 

Concerning the subdiaconate, there is also some hesitation on 
the part of theologians as to its status as a sacrament, since un 
like the diaconate and priesthood, it does not call for the imposi 
tion of hands, one of the essential rites of the sacrament of Orders. 
It is usually given to the candidates on the Saturdays of Ember 
week, the Saturday before Passion Sunday or on Holy Saturday. 
It is at this ceremony that the bishop warns those about to be 
ordained that they are making an irrevocable decision, abandoning 
their independence to consecrate themselves to the Church, and 
obliged therefore to guard their celibacy. He invites them, if they 
accept their obligations, to take a step forward. (This rite is 
naturally omitted on the ordination of religious as they have al 
ready made the same promises at the time of their profession.) 
The candidates then prostrate themselves, and the litany of the 
saints is chanted. Then after a long address on the function of the 
subdiaconate, the bishop presents to each candidate the empty 
chalice and paten: the archdeacon places in their hands the cruets 
filled with water and wine. Next the bishop clothes them with the 
vestments of their rank, and gives to each the book of the Epistles, 
since it is the duty of the subdeacon to read these at Mass. At 
the Mass following these ceremonies, one of the newly-ordained 
subdeacons, immediately putting into effect the duties of his 
office, reads the Epistle in a loud voice. 

Immediately after the Epistle, and usually at the same Mass 
(because the orders are generally given to seminary classes or 
groups of young men having reached the same point in their 
ecclesiastical studies), the ceremonies of the Mass are interrupted 
for the ordination of the deacons. The candidates kneel before 
the bishop, and the archdeacon begs the latter to give them the 
diaconate or the charge of priesthood omis diaconii, onus fres- 
byterii y and the bishop says, "Are they worthy?" 

After receiving this assurance, he proceeds to the ordination 

The Liturgy 297 

and begins by warning the people assisting at the Mass that he 
has chosen these clerics to the diaconate, but still desirous of not 
bestowing the dignity on the undeserving, he invites those present 
to declare to him at once any existing impediment of which they 
may be aware. The bishop then makes a detailed explanation of 
the duties of the diaconate, and the litany of the saints is 
chanted. Proceeding, the bishop gives two benedictions to the 
candidates and chants a long prayer in the manner of a Preface, 
imploring upon them the divine graces. Then comes the rite 
regarded by the Church as essential to ordination: the prelate ex 
tends the right hand over each, saying, "Receive the Holy Ghost" 
etc. and holding his hand aloft, resumes the chanting of the in 
terrupted Preface, praying for the descent of the Holy Ghost on 
the deacons. The deacon is then vested by the bishop with stole 
and tunic (dalmatic) and the book of the Gospels is placed in his 

In the ordination of a priest the necessary rites are the im 
position of hands upon the head of the person to be ordained, 
first by the ordaining bishop and then by all the priests present; 
the vesting with the sacerdotal garments (the stole crossed on the 
breast and the chasuble), the anointing of the hands with the oil 
of the catechumens. During the last ceremony the Veni Creator 
is sung. The bishop then has the new priest touch the chalice 
containing wine and water, the paten containing the host, and 
confers upon him the power to celebrate the Mass. The Mass of 
ordination then continues, the new priest reading all the prayers 
at the same time as the bishop, concelebrating with him the re 
mainder of the Holy Sacrifice. At the end of the ceremony several 
supplementary rites of ordination follow. The new priests recite 
the Creed, and the bishop, again imposing his hand on each, gives 
them the power to remit sin. Several monitions and benedictions 
follow, parts of which go back to early Christian times. Among 
them is the promise of obedience made by each of the new priests 
to the bishop, placing his joined hands in those of his superior. 

Unlike all the other sacraments (except Baptism, when the 
subject is in danger of death), the sacrament of Matrimony is not 
administered by a bishop or priest but by the contracting parties 
themselves. From the liturgical point of view marriage is in a 
separate category. In the other sacraments the rite is a protocol 
imposed by the Church on its ministers in the application of the 


matter and form of the sacraments; whereas in this the priest only 
assists, in the name of the Church, at the contract between the 
wedded pair. Their public exchange of promises, together with 
the benediction of the priest, fulfills the essential conditions of a 
sacrament. The attendant ceremonies differ greatly in various parts 
of the world, local customs and traditions playing a larger part 
than in the other sacraments. A special Mass for use at weddings is 
contained in the missal; its outstanding features are two formulas 
of benediction following the Our Father and another at the end 
of the Mass. The nuptial benediction is given specially to the wife. 
All Catholics are urged and expected to be married at a nuptial 
Mass, but it is not an essential part of the sacrament of Matrimony 
since certain impediments, for instance the marriage of a Catholic 
to a non-Catholic (for which a special dispensation is required), 
make its celebration impossible. 

III. Sacramentals 

In speaking of the celebration of Mass and the administration 
of the sacraments we have mentioned many objects, gestures and 
prayers which surround the essential rites instituted by Christ. 
They are the observances and holy objects employed by the 
Church in its external cult and are known as sacramentals. Their 
purpose is to excite devotion and produce salutary effects in the 
soul. The Church does not claim that they remit sin or produce 
grace like the sacraments, but they act through the Church's 
intercession or through the powerful impetrative value of the 
Church's prayer, as is stated in the Code of Canon Law 
(canon 1144). 

The value of these material objects and gestures consecrated or 
blessed by the Church is one of the most beautiful and consoling 
elements of the liturgy, and although they are efficacious only in 
so far as used with the proper dispositions by the faithful, 
Catholics nevertheless believe them to possess in themselves a 
definite spiritual potency. Space does not allow us to describe all 
the rites and formulas by which the numerous sacramentals are 
conferred. Let us mention but two: 

The holy water, for instance, which is kept in churches and 
homes and often used in making the sign of the cross, is a sacra 
mental assuring divine protection because of the prayers of the 
Church which exorcise and bless this element. The water for 

The Liturgy 20p 

this use is blessed on Holy Saturday and on Sundays before high 


The blessed palm procured at Mass on Palm Sunday and often 
kept in the homes throughout the year, is a sacramental carrying 
thoughts back to the day on which Christ rode into Jerusalem 
amid the acclamations of the people. The blessing of this palm 
begs God, "that the sincere devotion of your people may make 
them victorious over their enemy and zealous in works of mercy, 
and thus spiritually complete the ceremony which they outwardly 
perform this day." 

"These small and familiar gestures," said a great Dominican 
theologian, "these insignificant objects: an aspersion of holy water, 
a cross traced on the forehead or on the breast, a formula of 
prayer all these things, entering into the great spiritual current 
become efficacious because of our psychological make-up in which 
the senses play so great a part. It is a tendency of human beings 
to seek symbols in nature; to speak or act by metaphors; to 
attach to things used in material life a sense corresponding to' the 
moral order. Place these symbols in the service of religion, do so 
with sentiments corresponding to the action, in the name of a 
tradition common to Christians under the shelter of the formal 
institution of the authority which directs the group and you have 
the sacramentals." x 

IV. The Divine Office 

The Divine Office is the daily round of official vocal prayer 
appointed by the Church to be recited in her name by all priests 
and almost all religious men and women who have taken 
solemn vows; like the rest of the liturgy it has as its center the 
Mass, the greatest prayer of all. The recitation of the Office is an 
obligation which the Church has laid upon those mentioned above 
individually and under pain of sin. Once the duty is bound upon 
them it must be faithfully performed every day, though in case 
of illness or serious fatigue, religious superiors have the power to 
dispense from it. In the monasteries of religious orders bound to 
the public and choral recitation of the Office, a large part of the 
day is spent in preparing, studying and meditating on the Opus 
Dei (work of God) as the Office is often called. 

In addition to those who are bound to the recitation of the 
X A. D. Sertillanges, OJP, Revue des Jeunes, Dec. 25, 1915, pp. 281-90. 


Office by their state in life there are others who have taken this 
obligation upon themselves. These are members of religious in 
stitutes with simple vows who had formerly been bound only to 
the Little Office of Our Lady 2 but who have, with the revival of 
interest in liturgy, obtained permission to replace that recitation 
by the canonical Offices. There are confraternities whose mem 
bers assemble periodically to recite an Office in common. Last 
but not least are the growing number of lay people who feel 
themselves drawn to the use of the Church's own daily prayer. 

The Divine Office as given in the breviary consists of an office 
for the night, Matins and Lauds, and another for the day, Prime, 
Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. These eight canonical 
hours correspond to the Greco-Roman division of the day into 
three periods, four watches by day and four by night. The sub- 
stance of the Office consists of Psalms (the 150 psalms of the 
Psalter are prayed through in the course of each week), of read 
ings from the Scriptures or the Fathers of the Church, antiphons, 
hymns, responsories and collects. Among these texts some are 
variable and depend on the liturgical season or the feast. The 
order of their recitation is the same for each day of the year with 
the exception of those recited from Holy Thursday to the Satur 
day after Easter and those for the Office of the Dead. 

V. The Liturgical Year 

The feasts of the liturgical year are not mere historical com 
memorations of the events of the life and death of Christ; cele 
brated in conjunction with the Mass throughout the Church year 
they have a definite objective value. According to one modern 
authority on the liturgy: "Just as all the historical events that 
made up Christ's Redemption found their final consummation in 
the Sacrifice of Calvary, so does the liturgico-mystical renewal of 
them throughout the ecclesiastical year become operative again in 
the order of grace, through Calvary's perpetuation on our altars. 
We must indeed learn, study, make intellectually our own, their 
historical significance and moral lessons; but what is more im 
portant still is our sharing in the specific graces and merits they 
have won for us, which become, as it were, present again, are 

2 A short form of the breviary in which are recited psalms, lessons and 
hymns in honor of the Blessed Virgin. 

The Liturgy 301 

made to operate again in space and time, by the power of the 
Church's prayer." 3 

The first, and probably for several centuries the only feast 
celebrated in the Church was Easter, the anniversary of the pas 
sion, death and resurrection of Christ. As a matter of fact in those 
days every week had its feast Sunday which is really a celebra 
tion or anniversary of the day on which Christ rose from the 
dead. Pentecost, or the feast of the descent of the Holy Ghost 
upon the Apostles fifty days after Easter, was the next feast to be 
celebrated by the Church. After the fourth century the feasts of 
Christmas and the Epiphany were added, and from that time on 
ward all the events of the life of Christ were observed on the ap 
propriate days. To the observance of His birth, passion, death and 
resurrection were added the commemoration of His fast in the 
desert (Lent), His presentation in the temple, ascension into 
Heaven. The anniversaries of the death of martyrs were like 
wise observed, also various feasts of the Blessed Virgin. 

Today the liturgical year is divided into seven seasons. Advent 
(a preparation for the coming of Christ) is the time included be 
tween the four Sundays prior to Christmas, and varies from 
twenty-one to twenty-eight days. The missal and breviary contain 
special texts and chants to prepare Christians for the great feast: 
the preaching of St. John the Baptist, the prophecies of Isaias 
referring to the Messiah, the gospels predicting the end of the 
world, and the coming of Christ, are the principal themes of the 
liturgy for this period. 

The second season, the Christmas time, extends from Christmas 
Day until Septuagesima Sunday (which may fall, according to the 
date of Easter, any time between January 16 and February 22). 
During this period consecrated to the Mystery of the Incarna 
tion, other kindred feasts are observed such as the Epiphany or 
visit of the Magi, and the Presentation in the Temple. 

Septtiagesima includes the time between Septuagesima Sunday 
and Ash Wednesday, an interim which serves in a way as a 
transition between the joyful and sorrowful events of Christ's 
life. On Septuagesima Sunday the word Alleluia disappears from 
the liturgy, not to be used again until Holy Saturday. 

S W. Michael Ducey, O.S.B., 'Theological Aspects of the Liturgical 
Movement" in The Ho?mletic and Pastoral Review, July 1934, p. 1030. 


Lent is the richest of the liturgical periods, including as it 
does commemoration of the mystery of the Redemption by Christ 
on Calvary. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, begins forty 
days of fasting and abstinence (with the exception of Sundays) 
which end on Holy Saturday. Its last two weeks are known as 
Passion time, as they were the days on which the sufferings and 
death of Christ actually took place. 

During Easter tvme^ extending from Easter Sunday until the 
fortieth day thereafter, or Ascension Day, the Church celebrates 
in its liturgy the glorious events attendant on Christ's Resurrec 
tion. All the Lenten penitential observances are suppressed and the 
triumphant Alleluia is frequently to be heard in the words of the 

The ten days from the Ascension to Pentecost, passed by the 
Apostles in their retreat in the Cenacle, are also marked with 
joyful observances. In the primitive Church, Pentecost itself was 
specially consecrated to the neophytes who had just received the 
sacrament of Baptism. 

The time after Pentecost is the longest period of the liturgical 
year and comprises from twenty-three to twenty-eight weeks 
according to the variations of the date of Easter. It begins on 
Trinity Sunday, the Sunday following Pentecost, and lasts until 
the first Sunday of Advent. Among the feasts of Christ celebrated 
during this long period are Corpus Christi (the Thursday after 
the octave of Pentecost), the Sacred Heart (Friday after the 
second Sunday after Pentecost), the Exaltation of the Cross (Sep 
tember 14), and the Feast of Christ the King (last Sunday of Oc 

The liturgical cycle also includes, in addition to the anniver 
saries of Jesus Christ, feasts of the Blessed Virgin, of the angels 
and of the saints. There is scarcely a day of the year on which 
Catholics do not honor one of the servants of God their names 
are entered on the calendar which is included in the beginning of 
every missal or breviary. The Or do (a directory for the use of 
priests of the dioceses) mentions also local feasts celebrated in the 
province or region. This sanctoral cycle is called the Proper of 
the Saints, and with the Proper of the Season it divides up the 
liturgical year. 

The saints are divided by the liturgy into different categories: 
apostles, martyrs, confessors, pontiffs (or bishops), doctors, ab- 

The Liturgy 33 

bots, virgins, holy women. The Church also reserves to the dead 
a special place in the liturgy. The feast of All Souls is observed 
on November 2, a special Mass for the dead being celebrated at 
this time as also on days of burial and remembrance. The missal 
and breviary contain special offices and Masses, and the Ritual 
devotes a whole chapter to the office and commemoration of the 
dead. All these ceremonies are expressive of pardon and hope; the 
bereaved Catholic is never without the consolation of which St. 
Paul speaks, "that you be not sorrowful, even as others, who have 
no hope." 

It has required years to establish the liturgical cycle as it now 
exists. Every Pope and every age have added their observances, 
like the strata of a geological formation; every Christian country 
has furnished its element: texts, rites, usages, feasts, martyrs, 
saints. As it now stands, it is a superb monument to the glory of 
God and expresses the highest aspiration of the Christian: his 
religious ideal. 

VI. The Liturgical Books 

We have frequently referred to the missal, the breviary and 
other liturgical books. The approved books which indicate the 
rites and ceremonies for ordinary use in the Latin Church are 
the two just mentioned, together with the Ritual, the Martyrology, 
the Pontifical and the Ceremonial of Bishops. To all of these may 
be added works such as the Kyriale which contains the notations 
for liturgical music. Besides, there are other liturgical books ap 
proved for churches of the Oriental rite, for churches of Latin rite 
such as the Mozarabic and Ambrosian, others special to religious 
orders and congregations. For religious institutes of the Roman 
rite these last are as a rule the same as those used by the Latin 
Church in general with certain supplements or Propers, contain 
ing mention of what is particular to a certain diocese or religious 
congregation. But all these are exceptions and are not well known 
to, nor used by, the great mass of the Catholic laity. 

Most Catholics, however, are familiar with the missal, contain 
ing the prayers and rites of the Mass. Although in the past abridge 
ments were often made for use by the faithful, at present th< 
exact text of each day's liturgy used by the priest is increasingl} 
followed by those who participate in the Holy Sacrifice. Th< 
missal under a very modest appearance contains treasures of doc 


trine, and from the literary point of view great beauties of ex 
pression. The Epistles and Gospels give us the most beautiful 
pages of the New Testament; the collects, secrets, postcommun- 
ions are all admirable formulas of prayer; its psalms and hymns 
include the most venerable and beautiful melodies of all time. 

Like the missal, the breviary is of a composite character, con 
taining the Psalter (the 150 psalms of David), the lectionary 
(extracts from the Old and New Testament), the homilary (col 
lection of sermons and homilies), the responses and antiphons. 
The Roman Breviary used by priests and most religious is entirely 
in Latin and those bound to its use must use that tongue. But for 
others who use the Office, this obligation does not apply. Transla 
tions of the whole Office have been made into almost every lan 
guage for those who wish to recite it in their mother tongue. 

The Ritual and Pontifical are less familiar to the laity, being 
the text and directions for the various ceremonies and benedic 
tions given by the ministers of the Church. It is considered useful, 
however, for the ordinary Catholic likewise to consult them, to 
familiarize himself with the ceremonies of Baptism and Con 
firmation, to follow intelligently the rites of ordination, the dedi 
cation of a church, the blessing of a house. Most of these texts 
now exist in the vernacular as well as in Latin. 

The Martyrology is read daily in religious communities and 
seminaries, usually at the end of the principal meal, and recalls the 
principal martyrs and saints whose feasts are celebrated in various 
parts of the world. Through its use, like that of the missal and 
breviary, Christians all over the world are reminded of the 
evangelical mysteries and of the lives of the saints. 

The Pontifical is the book of functions reserved to bishops. 
It is divided into three parts, the first containing the ceremonies of 
ordination (tonsure, minor orders, subdeacons, deacons, priests, 
bishops), and benedictions for the various states of life (monks, 
religious, abbots, abbesses, virgins, widows, kings, queens, em 
perors, princes and soldiers) . The second is a collection of blessings 
for objects (churches, altars, cemeteries, sacred vessels, bells, arms, 
ships, etc.). The third contains the ceremonies which the bishop 
must carry out on different days of the year (Ash Wednesday, 
Holy Thursday, etc.), the measures he must take in certain special 
circumstances (councils, synods, excommunications, reconciliations, 
visits of parishes, receptions, pontifical Masses). Finally, a supple- 

The Liturgy 305 

ment relates to the announcement of movable feasts, the reception 
of the pallium, and the administration of sacraments in exceptional 

The Ceremonial of Bishops differs from the Pontifical in that 
it does not contain directions for the rites themselves, but 
merely the rules necessary for their observance, especially in 
cathedral or college chapters. Of the three books composing it, 
the first instructs the bishop regarding his election, his vestments 
and functions, rules for provincial councils and diocesan synods; 
the second gives information regarding the solemn offices of tjie 
liturgical year; the last relates to the manner of reception of civil 

The Liturgical Movement 

Anything like a complete account of the place occupied by 
the Liturgical Movement in the contemporary action of the 
Catholic Church would require a volume in itself. However, we 
shall endeavor to sketch in briefly the main outlines of a reform 
that has placed a new emphasis on the role of the faithful in 
Christian worship with results which are only beginning to be 

The liturgy of the Church has been regarded at all times in 
her history as an essential and contemporary problem, but since 
the sixteenth century a tendency had existed to minimize the 
laity's participation in liturgical ceremonies. A reaction, generally 
called the Liturgical Movement, set in during the nineteenth cen 
tury, its origins usually ascribed to Dom Prosper Gueranger, 
restorer of the Abbey of Solesmes and the founder of the French 
Benedictine congregation famous for its revival of the Gregorian 
chant. Without minimizing his importance, it may be said that the 
trend that he so strongly influenced owes much to the work of such 
eminent scholars in the field as Duchesne, Batiffol, Baumer, Bishop 
and Probst, who undertook the necessary historical investigations 
in the great tradition of Leo XIII. Many improvements in the ex 
ternals of worship were brought about by Dom Gueranger and his 
followers, but the movement remained for some time somewhat of 
a specialty among the better educated clergy and laity. 

In the early years of this century Pius X effected a complete 
reorientation of the subject and gave to the liturgical movement 
the pastoral implication which it had previously lacked. By his 


motu proprio of 1903 on sacred music and his decree of 1905 on 
frequent Communion, the saintly Pontiff restored to the faithful 
two great means of taking their proper part in the liturgy. At the 
same time he began a thorough-going reform in still other liturgi 
cal matters: the rubrics, the calendar, the missal and the breviary. 

Pius X had declared, "The true Christian spirit has its first 
and indispensable source in active participation in the sacred mys 
teries and the public and solemn prayer of the Church," and the 
principles which he so strongly affirmed were upheld by each 
of his successors. In the midst of World War I, Pope Bene 
dict XV urged the organizers of the Liturgical Congress of Mont- 
serrat in July 1915, "to spread among the faithful an exact knowl 
edge of the liturgy; to instill in their hearts a taste for the sacred 
formulas, rites and songs by w r hich, in union w r ith their Common 
Mother, they render worship to God; to draw them into active 
participation in the sacred mysteries and ecclesiastical feasts which 
serve to unite the people to the priest, to bring them back to the 
Church, to nourish piety, strengthen faith, and perfect their lives." 

With the pontificate of Pius XI came the call to Catholic Ac 
tion and to a greater awareness on the part of the laity of their 
status in the Church and the benefits of corporate worship. The 
Benedictine order, of which Dom Gueranger was a member, now 
interested itself even more actively in the promotion of the liturgi 
cal life. Particularly in Belgium at its monasteries of Maredsous, 
Mont Cesar and St. Andre, the labors of its most brilliant scholars 
were centered on the theological explanation of the liturgical 
apostolate. Its active forces now spread to Germany, and at the 
Abbeys of Beuron and Maria-Laach such scholars as Dom Her- 
wegan and Dom Casel undertook the scriptural and patristic em 
phasis that so greatly added to the strength of the movement, 
while other centers in Germany applied themselves to the adapta 
tion of the liturgy on the pastoral level. In the United States the 
work was actively pursued by the members of the Benedictine 
Order and particularly from St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, 

During and after World War II, the Catholics of Europe, and 
especially those of Germany and France found in community 
worship an increasing answer to their need for strength and help. 
Interesting innovations were made; the flood of literature grew 
in magnitude, and more important centers for the spread of Utur- 

The Liturgy 307 

gical knowledge were founded. Two encyclical letters of Pius XII 
gave guidance and direction for the years ahead. The encyclical 
Mysteri Corporis (1943) stressed the participation of the laity in 
the Eucharistic sacrifice; Mediator Dei (1947), while warning 
against certain exaggerations in recent liturgical practices, clearly 
defined the nature of the liturgy and participation in it as 
not only internal but external. The Dialogue Mass which had 
been begun in certain places under Pius XI was given clear ap 
proval and its regulations entrusted to the local diocesan author 
ities. In addition the Pope called for an advisory committee to be 
set up in each diocese to promote the liturgical apostolate. 

The reforms in the liturgy carried out in recent years have 
been numerous and many changes are still in progress. Those that 
have already been brought about and which most directly affect 
the laity concern the following matters: 

Evening Mass. During World War II the celebration of after 
noon and evening Masses by special permission for the benefit of 
members of the armed forces became more and more frequent In 
1953, Pius XII gave a general permission for the offering of after 
noon and evening Masses in those places where their celebration 
is considered advisable by the local Ordinary for the ad 
vantage of employees, workers and others who find it difficult or 
impossible to attend Mass in the morning. 

The Eucharistic Fast. While the apostolic constitution Christus 
Dominus of 1953 did not change the fundamental law of fasting 
from the previous midnight before Communion, it stated that 
plain water no longer broke the fast, and made various other ex 
ceptions for the sick, for priests and people. These rules were 
further eased by a motu proprio, Sacram CoTnrmmionem,, of 
March 19, 1957, permitting: r) a wider celebration of evening 
Masses; 2) abstinence before Communion of three hours only 
from solid food or alcoholic beverages and of one hour from non 
alcoholic beverages other than water; 3) extension of the same 
privilege to priests who celebrate Mass or receive Holy Commun 
ion at midnight or the first hours of the day; 4) permitting sick 
persons, even if not confined to bed, to take alcoholic beverages 
and medicine, both liquid and solid, before Mass and Holy Com 
munion, without limitation of time. 

Use of the vernacular. Since the last war the use of the vernac 
ular in the administration of the sacraments (save for the actual 


sacramental forms), the imparting of blessings and the confer 
ring of sacramentals has been allowed in certain countries where 
the bishops have petitioned and obtained permission for the revi 
sion of the Ritual. While it was shown at the important Assisi 
Conference on Pastoral Liturgy held in Assisi in September 1956 
that where such permission has been granted excellent results 
have been obtained, the Church is slow to permit these changes. 
Above all, Pope Pius XII has expressed grave reasons for maintain 
ing at present in the Latin rite the unconditional obligation of the 
priest celebrant of the Mass to use the Latin language. 

The Breviary. The shortening of the Divine Office by ridding 
it of complications added in the course of centuries has been a re 
curring preoccupation of ecclesiastical authorities for some time. 
Two decrees issued in March and June of 1955 have done much to 
simplify the rubrics of the Office. The reduction of semi-double 
feasts to simples, of the additional versicles said at Prime and 
Compline, and of the number of saints' days forms the crux of 
these changes. The reforms bring into greater prominence the 
principal feasts of the liturgical year and tend to lighten the recita 
tion of the Office not only for the priests who must say it daily, but 
for the increasing number of the laity interested in its use. 

The Missal. The changes so far affecting the missal are in 
themselves slight, but since the missal follows the breviary with 
regard to the calendar and the Mass celebrated on a particular 
day, it will be seen that the changes affect more than appears at 
first sight. That further changes in the missal and breviary are 
under way is indicated by the fact that publishers of liturgical 
books are enjoined not to produce until further notice new edi 
tions of these books incorporating the changes. 

Restoration of the Easter Vigil and other Holy Week Services. 
So wide was the popular response which met the optional restora 
tion of the Easter Vigil in 1951, that by the decree Maxima 
Redemptionie of November 16, 1955, the whole pattern of the 
Holy Week services was changed for those who follow the Roman 
rite. By putting these services back to their original times, the 
revisers have restored to the most important part of the year's 
liturgy much of its significance and effectiveness. Thus the institu 
tion of the Eucharist, the passion and death of Our Lord and His 
resurrection on Easter night are celebrated not as mysteries of the 
past, but at the time of day they happened, and as events of this 

The Liturgy 309 

year in the life of the Church and of every Christian soul. With 
out going into detail regarding these beautiful ceremonies, we may 
say that the faithful take an active part in them from the proces 
sion on Palm Sunday to the singing of the Easter Alleluia. With 
the year 1956 these ceremonies emerged from their experimental 
and optional stage and took their place in the worship of the 
Church as the proper culmination of the whole of Lent and the 
central celebration of the liturgical year. 

Those who were present at the Holy Week ceremonies in re 
cent years have been left in no doubt of the great benefits conferred 
on the faithful by the reforms in the Holy Week liturgy, benefits 
which will become more apparent in future years when the faith 
ful are more fully instructed in the new order and a new generation 
becomes familiar with it from childhood. These changes, in con 
junction with other reforms previously mentioned, and still others 
which appear to be on the way, are the fruit of the Liturgical 

Due to it also are many notable changes in Church music, 
architecture and art, all of high interest and mounting importance 
as a subject of study by the laity. These subjects are most profit 
ably discussed by experts and in a technical manner, although the 
effects of their studies flow forth in an ever-increasing stream 
resulting in the greater beauty of the churches and of the cere 
monies of the church, and deeply influencing the religious life of 
the masses. Most countries today have well-organized associations 
for the study and promotion of the knowledge of the liturgy and 
of the arts that minister to the Church. 


ONE OF THE MOST NOTABLE enterprises of the Catholic 
Church in modern times is the spread of Catholic Action, defined 
by Pope Pius XI in terms of the more intimate participation of the 
laity in that apostolic work of the Church for which the bishops 
are, of course, primarily responsible. It is the lay elements of the 
Church that are thus enlisted as an effective factor in this tre 
mendous movement. It is the operative factor in the sense that the 
whole movement depends for its vitality upon the laity's power 
of clearly understanding the precise place that they occupy in the 
life of the Church, and then of proceeding efficiently and vigor 
ously to carry out the work assigned to them or which they, with 
ecclesiastical approval, may initiate, each in his sphere of action. 
Nowhere has the positive role of the laity been more clearly 
stated than by Pius XII when, on February 20, 1946, he addressed 
the newly-made cardinals in these terms: 

The faithful, and more precisely the laity, are stationed in the 
front ranks of the life of the Church, and through them the Church 
is the living principle of human society. Consequently, they must 
have an ever clearer consciousness, not only of belonging to the Church, 
but of being the Church, that is, of being the community of the faithful 
on earth under the guidance of their common leader, the Pope, and the 
bishops in communion with him. They are the Church, and therefore 
even from the beginning, the faithful, with the consent of their 
bishops, have united in associations directed to the most diverse types 
of human activity. And the Holy See has never ceased to approve and 
praise them. 

Catholic Action 3 1 1 

The collaboration of lay people in the work of the Church is 
not new. It has existed in the past according to the needs of the 
time and historical circumstances we have only to recall the ex 
ample of the early Church, when the laity, men and women, were 
called upon to cooperate in the labors of the apostles and the 
spreading of the Gospel. The lay promotion of the cause of Christ 
has since then always been carried on, at certain times vigorously, 
again more slacldy and languidly, corresponding to the waxing 
and waning of the corporate energy of the Church. We may re 
member that the original monastic idea was a "lay movement" 
and that many great reforms were initiated by the laity. St. 
Benedict, as it is said, was not a priest; St. Francis was a layman 
when he founded his order; St. Ignatius was not yet a priest when 
he wrote his book of Spiritual Exercises. Nor can we forget the 
role of women in this connection when we think of St. Hildegard 
and St. Catherine of Siena. 

It may also be pointed out that in certain epochs it was the 
laity that defended the articles of faith. Newman quoted several 
instances to prove that in Arian times there were regions where 
the true faith was more decisively defended and maintained by 
the mass of the faithful than by some bishops. "In all times," 
he wrote, "the laity have been the measure of the Catholic spirit; 
they saved the Irish Church three centuries ago, and they be 
trayed the Church in England." x The laity have also played a role 
in the shaping of dogma. Pius IX in his encyclical Im-ffabilis 
Deus (1854), promulgating the dogma of the Immaculate Con 
ception, said that the masses of the faithful had contributed 
greatly to keeping this dogma alive through the centuries. The 
same fact was stated by Pius XII in his encyclical Mumficentis- 
simus Deus (1954) proclaiming the doctrine of the Assumption 
of Mary when he stressed the "unique agreement between the 
Catholic bishops and the faithful" concerning this article of faith. 

The Role o^ the Laity 

It would be inexact, however, to make these assertions without 
due reference to the Church's hierarchy of authority and action, 
and to the principle of the uniqueness of her priesthood. The 

1 Lectures an the Present Position of Catholics in England, London, 
1 908, p. 598. 


word "laity" is derived from the Greek word laos, meaning "the 
people," and denotes the body of the faithful outside of the ranks 
of the clergy. The word "faithful" embraces all the members of 
the Church, clergy and laity, from the Pope down to the humblest 
lay individual. The laity and the clergy alike are members of the 
Church considered as a society; but the laity are not called upon 
to perform the same functions as the clergy. The clergy alone 
are the depositories and ministers of the sacerdotal authority en 
trusted to the Church in its three main functions of ecclesiastical 
government, teaching and worship. 

Many great saints, it is true, have been members of the laity 
and many great and lasting works and movements in the Church 
have been initiated or led by laymen and laywomen; but these 
facts in no wise conflict with the principle summarized above. 
The works or movements of these saints were authorized or ap 
proved by clerical authority, no matter how original with the 
kyman or laywoman who conceived them. St. Francis of Assisi, 
for example, was a layman when he originated his vast movement 
and when he founded his society. Although there were individual 
clerics who distrusted, even opposed, his ideas and the methods 
created by him to execute them, legitimate ecclesiastical authority, 
to which he was unwaveringly obedient, accepted Francis, ap 
proved his work, and commissioned him to proceed with it. 

So, too, St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, was a layman 
when he conceived his special work and began to realize Ids in 
dividual, original ideas. He, too, encountered suspicion and power 
ful opposition, but legitimate authority accepted, eventually, his 
main plan, and commissioned him and his companions to carry on 
and perpetuate the special work within the Church, and for the 
Church, of the Society of Jesus. 

It is true, of course, that St. Ignatius finally became a cleric; 
but the point we wish to make is that it was as a layman that 
he began and for a long time continued the preparatory labors 
of a wholly new and original development of Catholic action. 
If, however, he had been angered by the opposition he encoun 
tered, and had rejected authority, and still persisted in organizing 
a movement, he might have become the leader of a schism or a 
heresy; his work under such circumstances would have finally 
resulted in a cleavage, large or small, in Catholic unity, and not, 
as really happened, in a strengthening of that unity. Scores of 

Catholic A ction ? z 3 

similar instances of lay movements, some of which retained their 
lay character, others becoming clerical through the receiving of 
Holy Orders by their lay leaders, or by the eventual develop 
ment of clerical control, might be cited from the earliest ages of 
the Church down to our own times. For example, as we have 
seen in an earlier chapter, the vast work of the foreign missions 
is largely dependent for its support upon the Society for the 
Propagation of the Faith, mainly created by the zeal and vision of 
a laywoman: Pauline Jaricot. It was a layman, Frederic Ozanam, 
who formed in Paris in 1833 the Conferences of Charity, or So 
ciety of St. Vincent de Paul, devoted to the personal service of 
the poor through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, a 
society which in 1956 counted 250,000 members throughout the 
world. The International Eucharistic Congress today one of the 
most solemn and important forms of the public demonstration of 
the Catholic Faith was also largely due to a laywoman's energy. 

But no matter how eminent or how numerous may be the 
members of the laity who attain to the highest personal sanctity, 
or who initiate great movements of Catholic devotion, or who 
display the highest talents, even to the degree of genius, in aiding 
the development of the Church, it is only the approval, the con 
firmation, and the direction of their efforts on the part of the 
ruling powers of the Church which legitimatize such efforts. 

Nevertheless the laity has a full right to share in the spiritual 
goods and benefits of the Christian society, which right implies a 
corresponding obligation on the part of the clergy to share such 
benefits, or bestow such goods, in as far as the obtaining of bene 
fits and goods depends upon the intervention of the appointed 
ministers of religion and of the spiritual authority. However, in 
order that they may duly receive their share of these spiritual 
goods, the laity must make use of the means of sanctification in 
stituted by Jesus Christ in His Church and placed in the charge 
of the clergy. In addition, the laity, being properly subject to due 
ecclesiastical authority, must necessarily obey and respect it; 
which again implies their right to obtain from the clergy spiritual 
benefits and the helps that are necessary for salvation. So, for the 
Catholic, lay as well as clerical, rights and duties are always and 
invariably correlative. 

That duty of the Catholic which is primary and fundamental to 
all others, is the duty to accept and grow in the Faith. Hence, the 


first obligation of the laity is to learn the truths taught by the 
Church, and then to develop and practice their religion. Being 
thus obliged to learn and practice their religion, they have the 
right to turn to the clergy for instruction and direction and serv 
ice. Furthermore, since a Catholic's moral conduct should be in 
keeping with his Faith, his duty is to preserve and strengthen his 
spiritual life by the means established by Christ in His Church: 
the Divine service, especially the Mass, the sacraments, and other 
sacred rites, and by supplementary means, such as attendance at 
nonliturgical, non-obligatory services of prayer and devotion, at 
missions, and retreats. All this, of course, in addition to purely 
personal and private prayer. 

It may be well to sketch, at this point, the respective roles of 
the laity and the clergy in the three main fields of Catholic ac 
tion, that of divine worship, of doctrinal teaching, and of Church 

It may be said that the expression "the liturgy" covers all the 
various acts and ceremonies of the Divine service, including the 
essential act of Catholic worship, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 
Now, in all liturgical functions, the clergy alone are the ordained 
and therefore "active" ministers in the full and proper sense. Yet 
laymen are far from being mere spectators, or passive recipients, 
of the benefits of the Mass. They really join in offering the sacrifice, 
through the ministry of the priest, as many of the prayers of the 
Mass indicate. They reply or may do so, if they possess the 
requisite liturgical knowledge, which today is so widely shared by 
them to the salutations and invocations of the celebrant, thus 
taking their part in the solemn prayer; and they especially par 
ticipate in receiving the Holy Victim by Communion. 

In administering the sacraments the same principle rules: the 
priest is the minister. There are two exceptions, namely that the 
laity may in certain cases administer Baptism (which cases often 
occur when children are in danger of death), and in Matrimony 
the persons contracting marriage are themselves the ministers, al 
though the marriage must receive the blessing of a priest and the 
approval of the Church. Even with these exceptions, it is the 
priest who carries out all liturgical functions and yet the liturgy 
is, by participation, as much the business of the laity as it is that 
of the clergy. 

Turning now to the field of teaching of doctrine, as we have 

Catholic Action 3 1 5 

said above, the body of the faithful is defined as the Ecclesia 
discens, the Church learning, in contrast with the Ecclesia docens, 
the teaching Church. The teaching work is carried on by the 
Pope, the bishops and those in holy orders commissioned by 
them. Therefore, the laity cannot preach in church, or undertake 
to expound or defend the Catholic doctrine officially, although 
they may be expressly authorized to present the Catholic position, 
as for example, in the case of the lay members of the various 
Catholic Evidence societies who, after being trained by ecclesi 
astical teachers, are encouraged to bear a layman's public witness. 
There are also certain competent laymen who receive a mssio 
canomca, or due ecclesiastical authorization, to teach theology 
in seminaries and universities; while lay teachers in other schools 
are also allowed to give religious instruction. The use of the laity 
in the mission field as catechists reflects an extension of a well- 
defined privilege, not the exercise of a right of the laity. 

Nevertheless, the faithful have an important role to play in 
safeguarding the deposit of revelation. First of all they bear 
witness by their personal lives; this testimony is by no means the 
exclusive task of the hierarchy. Although ordinarily not asked to 
preach, in his own circle each Catholic has a doctrinal mission to 
accomplish in his family, his social circle, among his co-workers. 
Moreover men who are striving to lead a Christian existence, can 
not disregard doctrinal culture. It is important for a Catholic to 
possess far more than a grammar school acquaintance with the 
vital question of his faith. How else can he meet problems of the 
moral, order which are encountered in every field of activity 
medicine, law, sociology, economics and even the technical 
sciences? A believer who is well-instructed will have many op 
portunities to spread his faith in places where the clergy may 
not enter. By preaching social justice and fraternal charity lay 
Catholics may help to better, both materially and spiritually, the 
lot of their fellow men in temporal society; such is the aim of 
the great Catholic youth, family, worker and intellectual organi 

In what concerns matters of jurisdiction and administration, 
canon law explicitly denies competence to lay persons to hold real 
jurisdiction in the Church. For this reason no official act requiring 
real, primary ecclesiastical jurisdiction can properly be performed 
by them; if so attempted, such acts are null and void. Therefore, 


a layman cannot be the head of a church or of any Catholic 
canonical community, nor legislate in spiritual matters, nor act as 
a judge in essentially ecclesiastical cases. 

Neither is it possible for a layman even when acting as a 
member of a secular governing authority to bestow ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction on clerics under the form of an election conferring 
the right to an episcopal or other benefice, whatever may some 
times have been the privileges, granted or tolerated, of Catholic 
kings in connection with the nominations to certain ecclesiastical 
posts. The laity may, however, and often has, and to some extent 
still does, enjoy in certain cases rights connected with the selec 
tion of ecclesiastics to hold office, provided that these rights do 
not invade the domain of the primary spiritual jurisdiction. There 
are governments, for example, that may nominate clerics to bishop 
rics or other ecclesiastical offices, having obtained that privilege by 
concordats with the Holy See. 

In what concerns the administration of the finances of the 
Church, which are provided mainly by the laity, it is recognized 
that equity requires that the laity should participate. Hence, under 
such names as "trustees," "parish councils," "building councils," 
and the like, and acting under rules drawn up or approved by the 
ecclesiastical authority, there are almost universally to be found 
throughout the Church laymen charged with or cooperating 
with the clergy in the care of the temporal goods of churches 
and other ecclesiastical establishments. Even here, however, the 
laity acts by virtue of a privilege recognized by the authority of 
the Church, which, of course, could not abandon the control of 
property essential to the functioning of its sacred mission. And 
laymen acting in such committees or boards are bound by canon 
law or episcopal laws and regulations, and must never encroach 
upon the domain of spiritual authority, reserved by Christ and 
the very nature of things to the appointed priesthood in the 
Church. There are sad chapters which record the unhappiness and 
trouble caused by ky trustees in the early history of the Church 
in the United States, when such trustees attempted to usurp the 
ecclesiastical authority in such matters, for example, as the ap 
pointment of pastors and the decisions of policy in the spiritual 
work of the Church. 

In addition to lay representation on parish or cathedral boards 
of the type described above, there are also numerous educational 

Catholic A ctlon 317 

and charitable institutions, founded, financed, and sometimes di 
rected by, lay people, which are not, strictly speaking, church 
property, though they may be subject to the control of the or 
dinary authority, as the bishop of the diocese in which they are 
situated. The material aspect of these institutions is not the most 
important thing; they exist primarily to promote moral and 
spiritual ends, and the laity concerned would not be truly Catholic 
did they not recognize that in order to attain these ends, they re 
quire authoritative guidance and direction from pastoral sources. 
In brief in all matters concerned with the functioning of the 
Church even when functioning at the highest possible pitch of 
corporate activity the laity is always auxiliary to the clergy, and 
never independent of the appointed pastors. However, this fact 
brings up the consideration of another point which is vitally im 
portant to understand. It is that there is not, nor can there possibly 
be, anything essentially inferior in the position or powers of the 
laity as compared with the clergy in what concerns the main 
purpose of the Church, namely, the sanctification of individual 
souls. As regards the main business of Christian life, namely, salva 
tion, the Church composed of priests and faithful is a community. 
If post-Reformation theologians and canon law have stressed the 
Church's hierarchical powers and especially those of the Papacy, 
the affirmation of her aspect as an institution has never been denied 
or made to the exclusion of her aspect as a community of the 
faithful in which each member must play his role and assume his 
responsibilities to the full. 

Forms of Lay Action 

Throughout the nearly twenty centuries of the history of the 
Church, the example set by the lay helpers of Christ and His 
first Apostles have carried on their work of participating in the 
public mission of the Church, under the direction of its lawful 
pastors, in almost innumerable ways. Sometimes, in fact mostly, 
this participation was given in local, particular forms each church 
having its more or less well organized groups of lay people act 
ing in the service of that one church. 

As early as the third century Christians formed associations for 
the care of the sick and the burial of the dead; guilds for divine 
worship and works of charity are known to have existed in the 
seventh century. Later on pious unions were formed for the 


communication of spiritual favors, foundations for Masses and 
almsgiving. One of the earliest was an association formed at Le 
Puy in Languedoc, France, in the year 1183, its object being to 
pray "for the restoration of peace. 77 It is interesting to note that a 
layman, a carpenter named Pierre Durant, is said to have been its 
founder. While the medieval guilds were groups of people in the 
same craft or business usually united for social or economic ends, 
other guilds were formed for spiritual purposes. With the rise of 
such great religious orders as the Franciscans and Dominicans in 
the thirteenth century there were united to them associations or 
third orders of laymen who sought to lead a more perfect Chris 
tian life in association with these orders and under their guidance; 
other confraternities were established to take part in public wor 
ship or for other devotional and charitable activities. 

There was a great decline both in the numbers and the effec 
tiveness of these associations during the last period of the middle 
ages, part of that general decline of ecclesiastical life which pre 
pared the way for the Reformation. With the renewal of Catholic 
vigor produced by the Counter-Reformation, however, and the 
growth of the many new religious congregations, the confraterni 
ties and sodalities once more sprang up, many of them continuing 
their corporate existence to this day. 

The vast multitude of Catholic lay groups may be classified 
into three main streams of purpose, or intention, although they 
cannot be regarded as absolutely distinct from each other, for in 
deed the unity of Catholic life embraces them all. The first class 
includes the third orders which have for their main purpose to 
cultivate, develop, and increase personal and corporate piety and 
devotion, in a word, sanctity under the guidance of one of the 
great religious orders. The second class embraces those confrater 
nities for the purpose, among others, of the embellishment of 
public worship. The third class are pious unions the main purpose 
of which is to practice works of piety or charity. 

We have noted in the chapter on "Religious Orders" the con 
nection between the major religious orders and their tertiary 
groups. For them the Rule and statutes of that order are adapted 
to the secular life and some of the regular practices which they 
assume are fidelity to morning and evening prayer, recitation of 
the breviary, daily Mass, frequent confession and Communion, 
even a daily half hour of meditation, but such statutes do not 

Catholic A ction 3 1 9 

bind them under pain of sin. A secular third order is a true order, 
with a noviceship, a profession and a habit and although lay 
ternaries do not ordinarily wear the latter they do so on special 
occasions and may be buried in it. 

In the second class of confraternities, the attributes of God or 
the most profound mysteries of religion are the special center 
of the devotional life of their members, and of the practical efforts 
by means of which they seek to spread their influence. Such 
are the confraternities of the Most Holy Trinity, or of the Holy 
Ghost, the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and the triple ring of 
sodalities formed about the Person of the Savior for the veneration 
of the Most Blessed Sacrament, of the Sacred Heart, and of the 
Passion. Others, so numerous that one may not attempt their 
enumeration, exist specially to honor the Blessed Virgin although 
special mention should be made of the Sodality of Our Lady and 
the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary; while others again are 
devoted to the cults of angels and saints recognized as the spiritual 
patrons of districts, cities, shrines and whole countries. Some of 
these societies encourage popular movements of demonstrative 
piety (such as the public processions of the Holy Name Society); 
others devote themselves to the nocturnal adoration of the Blessed 
Sacrament; others again devote themselves in a particular manner 
to the practice of the Way of the Cross. 

The third class, pious unions, are devoted to what are termed 
the spiritual or corporal works of mercy; and many closely re 
semble groups included in the first class. However to indicate the 
general character of the third class, mention may be made of the 
many sodalities for the relief of the souls in purgatory or others 
that labor through prayer and other religious acts for the con 
version of sinners, or the conversion of heretics, or for the re 
union of heretical and schismatical Christian churches with the 
Catholic Church; or for the benefit of the poor, in particular 
the St. Vincent de Paul Society; or for the promotion of the mis 

Anything like a complete list and description of these secular 
third orders, confraternities and pious unions would occupy sev 
eral volumes. They are spread throughout the world in mission 
ary countries as well as in the regularly organized portions of the 
universal Church, many of them having a history which goes 
back to the early ages of the Faith, at least by the link of venerable 


traditions, while others, again, have sprung up in answer to the 
most modern developments of social life. Generally speaking, the 
sodalities or confraternities found in nearly every Catholic parish 
are federated on a diocesan or even worldwide basis; these are 
called archsodalities or archconfraternities. 

Catholic Action in the World 

Another class of lay association works for the promotion of 
the spiritual, moral or material good of certain specific classes of 
society and bear witness to Christ in the world. It is here that the 
layman is able to play his most effective role. In addition to the 
"Church" role in which he carries on his work at the heart of 
the Christian community and in organized collaboration with the 
hierarchy, there is the temporal world, which is his proper sphere. 
It is here that, according to Cardinal Suhard, "the laity have an 
irreplaceable part, because they have to take up the responsibilities 
proper to them." It is not for the priest to engage in secular affairs; 
it is the business of the laity who are placed by God at the head 
of a family, a factory or firm, or who are the members of a profes 
sion, to direct these institutions to their proper end and to infuse 
the Christian spirit into them. 

That every member of the faithful has an "apostolic vocation," 
that he must cooperate in the work of the Redemption and in the 
life of the Mystical Body of which he is a member, is a truth on 
which the Church has particularly insisted in modern times. Far 
from being a novelty this form of Catholic Action is but the 
revival of one of the most ancient teachings of Christianity; it 
has assumed particular importance in our day because of the present 
stake of secularized and socialized society. A new world has taken 
shape based on democratic processes, scientific and industrial de 
velopments, and the new strength of the working man. The dif 
ferent community groups of former times have been succeeded by 
a complex fabric of collective influences and new social structures. 

These developments were recognized by Pope Leo XIII 
seventy years ago when in encyclical after encyclical he pled with 
the faithful to make their contribution to this new world, and 
even in his day the answer came by way of the formation of 
Catholic political parties and a Catholic position taken in labor or 
Christian Democratic fields. Still Catholic Action in these spheres 
as we understand it today had not been born. In 1915 Benedict 

Catholic A ction 321 

unified the Italian movement under the name of Catholic Action 
(a term already used by Pius X) and dissociated it from electoral 
organization. It was Pius XI who confirmed its character as a lay 
apostolate in dependence on the hierarchy and promoted various 
developments: in the parish, through the liturgical revival in which 
lay participation was stressed, through youth movements, and in 
the worker's field. The Pope laid down no uniform rules for 
Catholic Action everywhere; he said that its scope was wide and 
varied from country to country and at different times in the same 
country. Nor did he designate it as a secular activity but in its 
truest sense a religious one. 

Pope Pius XII has continued the process of formulating the 
principles of Catholic Action and promoting its spread. His en 
cyclicals, Mystici Corporis, Mediator Dei and Humani Generis 
are all concerned with the theme of the role of the faithful in the 
work of the Church. His legislation concerning participation in 
the liturgy, evening Mass, the Communion fast, not to speak of 
the restored Holy Week liturgy, all have this aim in view. To 
promote an apostolic laity through international congresses a per 
manent Committee for International Congresses of the Laity has 
been set up in Rome since 1952. 

Catholic Action as it exists today has no political character, al 
though Catholics are urged to participate as individual citizens in 
the political life of their countries. It is not a substitute for political 
parties formed by Catholics where these exist (as in Belgium, Hol 
land, Switzerland) nor to take their place where they no longer 
exist as in Germany or Austria. The impulse behind Catholic Ac 
tion is the realization of a Christian apostolate within a modern 
State and in modern society, whether democratic or otherwise. 
Its basic idea is the Christian formation of all, of every class and 
age, beginning with the children, so that all may cooperate in the 
priestly ministry and share in its very mission. 

This specialized form of Catholic Action is exercised in dif 
ferent ways in different countries as we have said. In general it is 
carried on by unions, leagues and movements which act in a given 
social or professional field, in virtue of a mandate from the 
hierarchy from which they receive official status and a public 
character in the Church. Associated in this way, the militants of 
these groups have as their essential aim to infuse the life of Christ 
which they have received into their respective spheres. Differing 


from the practice of parochial groups, which are directed by the 
pastor, these specialized associations are directed by lay leaders 
under the control of the proper ecclesiastical authority. Even 
with these groups the priest retains an important and indispensable 
role. He is not director or president but "the spiritual animator, the 
father, the representative of the hierarchy, charged to watch over 
the application of doctrine" by the laity under his charge. As we 
have noted elsewhere 2 it is his role constantly to remind his flock 
that there are not only people to be redeemed, but redemption to be 
brought to institutions so that their structures may reflect the 
justice and charity that Christ proclaimed. 

Catholic Action in the United States 

To what diverse activities these principles may be applied is 
well demonstrated by the range of Catholic Action in the United 
States. Although it is suited to conditions in one country at a par 
ticular time and combines a traditional Catholic pattern with a 
characteristically American pattern of voluntary organization, it 
illustrates the fields and interests of Catholic Action in other 
countries of the world. Here, as in every country, Catholic Ac 
tion is carried out in each diocese under the general direction of 
its bishop, unless the bishops have met in formal council and 
decided upon common measures to be pursued. The center and 
clearing house of the numerous organizations is the National 
Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington, D. G, described as 
"a free mutual cooperation between diocese and diocese, through 
a common central headquarters." Administered by ten archbishops 
and bishops elected each year at the annual meeting of the 
hierarchy, the Conference is presided over by an Episcopal Chair 
man who is head of its Administrative Board. The fields in which 
it functions may be judged by the titles of the various depart 
ments of the NCWC: 

Executive Department 
Department of Education 
Department of Immigration 
Department of Lay Organizations 
Legal Department 
Press Department 
Department of Social Action 
Department of Youth 

2 See Ch. xm, 'The Parish and the Parish Priest,* 7 pp. 197-8. 

Catholic A ction 323 

In addition to these the special episcopal committees of the Con 
ference include: 

American Board of Catholic Missions 

Committee on the Propagation of the Faith 

Committee on the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine 

Governing Committee for Catholic Relief Services 

Committee on the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception 

Bishops' Committee for Polish Relief 

Bishops' Committee for the Spanish-Speaking 

Welfare and Relief Committee 

Bishops' Committee for Montezuma Seminary 

Committee on Motion Pictures 

Committee on Decent Literature 

Pontifical Committee for the North American College in Rome 

Committee to Support the Pope's Peace Plan 

Committee for Catholic Migrants 

Each department of the NCWC has an episcopal chairman 
responsible to the hierarchy, and the whole organization, in which 
the sections are closely integrated, is under the supervision of a 
General Secretary who is at the same time Director of the Execu 
tive Department with various administrative bureaus under his 
charge; these are business, financial and publications offices, the 
Bureau of Information; also the Office of UN Affairs, and the 
National Center for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. 

Of the coordinating work of the Confraternity of Christian 
Doctrine and of the Department of Education of the NCWC we 
have spoken in an earlier chapter ("Catholic Education"), but in 
general we may say that it serves the Catholic school system in 
the United States and promotes educational work, research and 
the exchange of ideas throughout this field. 

The Department of Immigration provides a broad technical 
service in the area of immigration, emigration, deportation, nat 
uralization, citizenship and related matters. To aid aliens who 
seek to enter or adjust their status in the U. S., it conducts a 
worldwide correspondence; in exclusion or deportation proceed 
ings it gives them legal aid. For all these purposes the Department 
of Immigration maintains offices at its headquarters in Washington, 
and in New York City, Santa Fe, New Mexico and El Paso, 
Texas. This department handles as many as 50,000 cases a year. 

The Department of Lay Organizations is "the channel for the 
interchange of information and service between the NCWC 


and the laity in their common work for the Church." It functions 
through the National Council of Catholic Women with its more 
than 10,000 parish and inter-parochial affiliates throughout the 
country and through the National Council of Catholic Men, a 
voluntary federation of organizations of Catholic men. This de 
partment promotes unity and cooperation, under ecclesiastical 
supervision, between the clergy and laity in matters affecting the 
general welfare. It participates through Catholic lay representa 
tion in national or international movements where moral ques 
tions are involved and in general seeks to further the participation 
of the laity in the Church's apostolate. 

In its manifold activities the National Council of Catholic 
Women places emphasis on leadership training and study prob 
lems in a variety of fields affecting family and parent education, 
social action and international relations. To further this work, the 
NCCW publishes monthly program suggestions and a quarterly 
bulletin which reports diocesan council activities and their signifi 
cant trends. The NCCW has also raised substantial sums in recent 
years for foreign relief through projects which it has sponsored. 

In its main outline the work of the National Council of Catholic 
Men is to cooperate in furthering the aims of all approved move 
ments in the interests of the Church and of society and to bring 
about a better appreciation of Catholic principles and ideals in 
the educational, social and civic life of the country. One of its 
main activities is in the communications field: the NCCM has 
sponsored since 1930 the Catholic Hour as well as other radio 
programs; more recently it has entered the area of television; it 
maintains an office for the distribution of films in New York 
City. The NCCM also operates the Narbeth Movement which 
publicizes Catholic beliefs and practices by means of leaflets and 
prepared newspaper articles. Catholic Men, the monthly news 
magazine of the NCCM, has a circulation list of over 70,000 
affiliated organizations and individuals. 

The Legal Department watches current legislation and court 
decisions on matters of social and religious interest, acting as a 
clearing house of information for Catholic groups and institutions 
on legislation in Congress or in the State legislatures that affect 
Christian life and the Church. It was chiefly through the united 
strength of the Conference that the famous Oregon School Case 

Catholic Action 325 

was fought and won. 3 In all areas the Legal Department works with 
the other departments of the Conference in matters affecting their 
particular field. 

The Press Department is a fully equipped and expert press 
service giving to the Catholic press the same facilities which the 
secular news agencies supply to the general press. From small 
beginnings over thirty years ago it has grown into an institution 
of national importance; an average of 60,000 words of news each 
week are at the disposal of editors, gathered from special cor 
respondents throughout the world. Other special services are main 
tained, such as features and pictorial material. The entire Catholic 
newspaper press in the United States and Canada receive this 
material, and the NCWC News Service, as it is called, has sub 
scribers in fifty-four countries. Translated into Spanish and 
Portuguese, its releases and features go into all the countries of 
Latin America. This department participates actively in the Cath 
olic Press Association of the United States which assists news 
papers and periodicals among its members to make their publica 
tions effective in presenting the truths of human life and of the 
Catholic Faith and bringing up their technical standards in every 

The Social Action Department is concerned with industrial 
relations, family and rural life, social welfare and international 
peace. In large part its functions may be called educational: to 
make known the social teachings of the Church, especially as 
embodied in papal encyclicals, and to interpret and apply them, 
under the guidance of the bishops, to problems existing in the 
United States. The Social Action Department has sponsored con 
ferences on industrial problems in various parts of the country 
and annual institutes on industry; national social action conferences 
have been organized. Educational materials are prepared by the 
department in this field; the clergy is supplied with a monthly 
newsletter regarding developments; special seminars are organized 
on race relations and the problems of special classes of immigrants. 
Affiliated with this department are the Family Life Bureau, the 
National Conference on Family Life, Bureau of Health and Hospi- 

3 Settled by a decision of the Supreme Court in 1928, establishing the 
fundamental principle that the rights and duties of educating the child be 
longed to the parents and not to the State. 


tals, the Catholic Association for International Peace. The services 
of the department are also at the disposal of pastors and parish 
ioners who may wish to set up parish credit unions, a remarkable 
development in American parochial life which dates back to 1905.* 
The Credit Union National Association in the United States is at 
present composed of more than 900 credit unions with over 500,- 
ooo members operated by Catholic parishes in the United States 
with capital assets of over 100 million dollars. 

The Youth Department coordinates Catholic youth work 
all over the country through the National Council of Catholic 
Youth, originated in 1937, to promote diocesan, collegiate and na 
tional youth organizations on a voluntary basis and without limita 
tion on episcopal authority in each case. A first section of the Na 
tional Council of Catholic Youth is composed of diocesan youth 
groups and a second of groups in universities and colleges; of these 
the National Federation of Catholic College Students and the 
National Federation of Newman Clubs have secretariats in the 
Youth Department of the NCWC. The National Council of Cath 
olic Youth gathers information regarding youth activity and prob 
lems; helps Catholic youth groups to cope with problems on a na 
tional scale; trains youth leaders in the true methods of Catholic 
Action; represents Catholic youth-led organizations both in the 
United States and in foreign countries. 

There exist, of course, many youth organizations not men 
tioned here and too numerous to describe. Such are the Catholic 
groups of the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Youth Movement of the 
Catholic Central Verein, the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) 
founded in 1930 by Bishop Bernard Sheil of Chicago; junior di 
visions of the Knights of Columbus and of the Catholic Daughters 
of America. In universities and colleges, there are, besides the 
Newman Clubs and National Federation of Catholic College Stu 
dents mentioned above, such groups as Pax Romana, the Catholic 
Mission Crusade and various Catholic fraternities and sororities. 

The names of the special Episcopal Committees of the NCWC 
listed earlier are to some extent self-explanatory and space pre- 

4 These credit unions are formed under State and Federal laws to promote 
thrift among their members and to create a source of credit for useful pur 
poses; they usually serve a group of people bound together by the same resi 
dence or association; by occupation as the employees of a company; by 
membership in a church, or by residence in a small community. 

Catholic A ction 327 

vents going into them here. But special mention should be made 
of the Catholic Relief Services (formerly War Relief Services) set 
up in 1943 as an agency of the Bishops' Welfare Emergency and 
Relief Committee. The Relief Services are well known for the ex 
tensive aid brought and sent by them to various countries during 
and in the aftermath of World War II. Between 1943 and 1955 the 
War Relief Services handled relief supplies valued at $367,845,000. 
Some of these supplies are government surplus placed in the hands 
of the Services' representatives for distribution, but most are pro 
vided by voluntary contributions of Catholics in the United 
States. For this purpose an annual collection of money is taken up 
each year in the middle of Lent; another, in the form of used 
clothing, made during the Thanksgiving holidays. These efforts 
still go on over the world, special aid being required during the 
last few years for refugees from areas in the Far East which 
have come under Communist control and for those in Europe flee 
ing from oppression in "Iron Curtain countries"; the Services have 
also aided in finding new homes for these refugees. 

This aid to foreign countries and their citizens has not been 
carried on to the neglect of the ever-present problems of missions 
at home. The American Board of Catholic Missions distributes 
40% of the funds of the annual collection for the Society of the 
Propagation of the Faith in the United States and its dependencies 
to missions in this country. The Bishops' Committee on the Prop 
agation of the Faith, on the other hand, establishes the work of the 
Propagation in the dioceses of the United States and organizes 
the proper means for supporting missions both at home and abroad. 
Also functioning through the Welfare Conference are the Na 
tional Catholic Community Services organized during World 
War II to perform the functions of the Knights of Columbus Com 
mittee on War Activities of twenty years before. As a part of the 
USO, the NCCS operates clubs near camps of the armed forces 
and provides social services for servicemen both here and over 
seas and for defense production workers and their families. 

Those numerous organizations mentioned above in connection 
with the National Catholic Welfare Conference by no means cover 
the whole of the modern lay apostolate of the Catholic Church in 
the United States. It is impossible even to name all the groups, but a 
word should be said of several works among the poor and dis 
possessed which arose in the depression area of the 1930*5 and con- 


tinue with vigor today. In the forefront of these, giving blood and 
local color to the Sermon on the Mount, are the "houses of hos 
pitality" and farms set up by the Catholic Worker; also the 
Friendship Houses in areas where Negroes are living in conditions 
of economic need and human neglect. In another field of social 
action a movement, based on the principles of social justice, has 
led to the formation of parish labor schools, of city and diocesan 
labor institutes. The Association of Catholic Trade Unions relates 
the teachings of the encyclicals to the working scene and seeks to 
organize the unorganized, to obtain more effectiveness for labor 
affairs, and to prevent Communists from seizing positions of power 
in the unions. 

Still another form of action is that inspired by the Jocist 
(Young Christian Workers) Movement in Belgium and France 
which was merely an experiment in the United States before the 
last War. This is an approach to Christian formation against the 
background of a total life religion, work, neighborhood, home 
and recreation. In recent years young adults have engaged in this 
apostolate in their own communities making adaptations to suit 
conditions here. With even greater effectiveness these techniques 
have been applied to family groups, and the growth of the Chris 
tian Family Movement and of the Cana Conferences has been 

The Cana Conferences, started in France in 1937 and intro 
duced into the United States in 1943, are a movement which has 
as its purpose the indoctrination of married couples with the 
Christian idea of marriage. Cana Conferences have been called "a 
Christian marital adjustment movement in the restricted sense of 
their being an attempt to adjust modern couples to the Christian 
plan of marriage and family life as drawn by God in the natural 
law and transformed by Christ." The movement concerns itself 
with the psychological, spiritual and physical union of husband 
and wife, parent-child relationship, the economics of family life, 
the duties of married life. More than 100,000 couples now attend 
the Cana Conferences in this country. About 40,000 engaged cou 
ples or single persons attend the pre-Cana Conferences, devoted 
to the preparation for marriage. Discussions both in the Cana and 
pre-Cana Conferences are held in small groups. 

The Catholic Rural Life Conferences, founded in 1922, now 
has more than 10,000 members among rural pastors, farmers, 

Catholic A ction 329 

teachers, sociologists, etc. Their purpose is to care for Catholics 
who live on farms, to keep them on the land and settle more there; 
in general to work for the religious and material welfare of the 
rural population. The idea and the success of the NCRLC has 
spread beyond the borders of the United States and is especially 
studied and used as a model in Central and Latin America. 

Another important development in the apostolate in America 
are the Catholic Interracial Councils, designed to fill a particular 
and pressing need. They seek to spread the doctrine of the dignity 
of the human person and the universality of the Church, and to 
apply these principles to race relations, to combat race prejudice 
and to seek justice for all. 

Especially adapted to the psychology of women, and vivified 
in an experience of Christian communal living during their forma 
tion, is the work of the Grail, an apostolic movement to prepare 
young women for religious leadership in their environment and to 
train others to help as lay apostles in foreign missions. Some 100 
American Grail-trained lay mission workers are serving the 
Church in Asia, Africa, and Latin America today. 

The Legion of Mary, founded in Ireland and now spread 
throughout the world, is also active in many dioceses of the 
United States. The Legion does not carry on material relief work 
but devotes itself to the sanctification of its members and the 
intensification of Catholic life, the reclamation of fallen aways, 
and the seeking of new converts to Catholicism. 

At least a mention must be made of the many Catholic scien 
tific societies, cultural associations and the unprecedented publica 
tion and distribution of Catholic books in the United States both 
by Catholic publishers and general publishing firms, or the suc 
cess of the various Catholic book clubs. Nor have we referred to 
the lively spirit of Catholic Action shown by the Catholic press: 
in 1957 the Catholic Press Directory listed 105 diocesan newspa 
pers and two national newspapers, plus twenty-three newspapers in 
foreign languages; 336 magazines in English and twenty-five in for 
eign languages, many of these with wide national circulation. 

Lest the idea be given that the American Catholic is exclusively 
concerned with the outward and collective activities of the apos 
tolate, a word should be said regarding the development of the 
hidden works of personal sanctification, contemplation, adoration 
and prayer. These are much harder to discern or to describe, and 


it must be admitted that Americans, by temperament an active, 
zealous and practical people, have been criticized for making the 
apostolate an end in itself and for overemphasis on the social as 
pects of Catholicism. To some extent this may be true, but it is 
not easy to judge; and the reverse of the medal may be shown in 
the spread of the Retreat Movement, of the liturgical revival, of 
the increased number of vocations to the contemplative life. At 
present an effort is being made in Catholic universities and colleges 
as well as among priests and nuns for a most solid formation in 
theology and its better application to life as it is lived. In such 
courses the Church is considered as a whole, as the Mystical Body 
of Christ, and the principles of Christian living are laid down both 
in their contemplative and active functioning, as well as the rela 
tion between the two. The encyclicals of the Popes over the last 
seventy years are studied by many groups and individuals, and 
significant works on the laity's role in the Church by such writers 
as Guardini, Suhard, de Lubac, Philips, Perrin and Congar are 
widely read. 

It is estimated that 300,000 laymen and 100,000 women make 
annual retreats in the United States. Daily attendance at Mass and 
Communion is increasing and everywhere a large part of the con 
gregation may be observed following the Mass by the use of the 
missal. Also a greater understanding of the sacraments is being 
fostered by the publication of English versions of the rites of Bap 
tism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and Matrimony. Outside the 
churches there is a growth of family prayer in the homes, and 
intensification to devotion to Mary through the Rosary Crusade. 
So it may be said that there is no undue cause for alarm, although 
obvious dangers are borne in mind by those concerned with the 
spiritual welfare of the country as a whole. 

The forms of Catholic Action we have described are in many 
ways particular to or adapted to conditions in the United States, 
but recently a pioneer and mission country where Catholicism is 
still a minority religion, but where democratic processes are at 
work and religious freedom is established by law. Religious cus 
toms and attitudes are different in France, Italy, Spain, Hungary 
and other countries, nor are present-day problems of living the 
same. In some nations as in Italy and France, Catholics face the 

Catholic A ction 3 

hostility of certain intellectuals or of large sectors of the workir 
masses that are subject to anticlerical and Communist influence 
in others the government is hostile to them and to their Chun 
and the apostolate must be adapted, under the leadership of tl 
hierarchy, to different forms. In still other places where the bis] 
ops of the flock are scattered, it is the simple priest and the kit 
and sometimes the laity alone, who must keep the Faith alive. 

But everywhere the basic principle of Catholic Action is d 
same. Its primary aim as defined by Pope Pius XI is "the pursuit < 
personal Christian perfection" and as a necessary consequenc 
again to quote this Pope, "the first step implies a knowledge of 01 
Faith, a deep personal love of Christ and His Church, and a ze 
and determination to think and live all phases of our lives as Cat! 
olics." This realization of the personal part of religion is insep 
rable from the realization of yet another truth stated by the sarr 
Pontiff in a letter addressed to the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbc 
in March, 1934: "As every Christian receives the supernatural lij 
which circulates in the veins of the Mystical Body of Christ- 
that abundant life which Christ Himself said He came to briri 
on earth so he must transfuse it into others who either do nc 
possess it, or who possess it too sparsely and more in appearanc 
than in reality." 

What has been given to a soul by God must be shared wit 
other souls that is the supreme task of the Church and of tt 
apostolate of the hierarchy. That apostolate and the laity's in 
memorial part in it is today being shaped into new forms to me< 
the new and pressing needs of our times, and by the intensifies 
tion of older, traditional forms. There is no innovation, so far : 
the doctrine of the Church is concerned; immutable truth do< 
not change; but there can be continual development of the trutl 
fuller understanding of the truth, and particularly, the living c 
the truth. Perhaps, then, the best definition of Catholic Action 
that of Pius X, who called it "the Catholic life lived out." 

It is this practical application of its mission which is the wor 
of the Church today. Every great doctrine of the Faith, and ever 
detail of its immense organization outlined in this book is give 
its meaning and receives its value in that outpouring of the spirituj 
life of Christ which is Catholic Action. 


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Abbacy of St. Jerome for Revision 
of Vulgate, 152 

Abbots, 69, 176, 184, 192 

Abbots nullius, 69, 175, 176, 177 

Ablegates, papal, 160 

Acolytes, 174, 187, 295 

Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 90, 132, 155 

A eta Sanctae Sedis, 90 

Action -frangaise, 52 

Ad limina visits, 15, 102, 179 

Ad Lucem, missionary society, 10 

Ad Sinarwn gentes, encyclical, 215 

Adenauer, Konrad, chancellor of 
Germany, 65 

Administrators, apostolic, 176-7 

Afghanistan, ecclesiastical jurisdic 
tion over, 104 

Africa, missions, 204, 208, 220-2 

African Missionaries of Lyons, 208 

Alaska, 160, 223 

Albania, 104, 246 

Albano, Italy, diocese of, 73 

Albert the Great, St., 54, 268 

Alberti, Leon, 21 

Alexander II, Russian emperor, 44 

Alexander III, Russian emperor, 44 

Alexander VI, Pope, 23, 36, 109, 157 

Alexandrian rite, 233-4 

Alfred the Great, of Britain, 21, 268 

Alia nosy bull, 105 

Almoner, papal, 67 

Ambrosian Library, Milan, 50 

Ambrosian rite, 303 

America (Jesuit weekly), ix 

American Citizenship, Commission 
on, 271 

American Institute of Management, 

American Society of International 
Law, 5 

Ampleforth, English abbey, 262 

Andrew Bobola, St., 6r 

Anglican Orders, 45 
Angelico of Fiesole, Fra, 22 
Angelicum, Athenaeum of, 16, 282 
Annona,, papal stores, 27 
Annuario Pomificio, 38, 69, 76, 155 
Annulments, 104, 131-2 
Antiochene rite, 23 1-3 
Anti-Popes, 20 
Ajitonianum, Athenaeum, 16 
Apoloni-Ghetti, B. M., 19 n. 
Apostolate of the Sea, 103 
Arabic, as liturgical language, 231, 

233, 234 
Archaeology, Pontifical Institute of, 

16, 32, 152-3 

Archbishops, 174-5, 181 
Archdeacons, 174 
Archdioceses, 174 

episcopal, 185 

parish, 190" 

Vatican, 27-8, 152 
Archives of Italy, Commission for, 

Armenian rite, Catholics of, i<5, 228, 

230, 237-8 
Art in Italy, Commission for Sacred, 


Asia, missions in, 212-18 
Assets of Holy See, administration 

of, 82, 138-42 

Assisi Conference on Pastoral Lit 
urgy, 308 

Assistants at the Throne, 67, 69 
Assumption of Blessed Virgin, 

dogma of , 59, 311 
Ateneo College, Manila, 219 
Attwater, Donald, cited, 229 
Audiences, papal, 62-4 
Auditor of the Pope, 67 
Augustine, St., 254, 255 

Augustinians, 16, 254-5 
Third Order of, 264 

Australia, missions in, 220 

Austria, 40, 43, 51, 199, 321 

Auxiliaires de FApostolat, 262 

Aitxiliaires feminizes Internation 
ales, 210 

Auxiliaires laiques des missions, 263 

Auxiliary bishops, 183 

Avignon, papal exile in, 3-4 

Baden, concordat with Holy See, 51 
Badoglio, Marshal, 9 
Balkans, mission territory, 222 
Baltimore Catechism, 278 
Baltimore, Plenary Councils of, 46, 

Baptism, sacrament of, 228, 293-4, 


Baradai, Jacob, 230 n. 
Basil, St., 254 
BatifFol, Pierre, 305 
Baumer, Dom Suitbert, 305 
Bavaria, 51, 54 

Beatification, 53, 84, 113, "4-* 7 
Beda College, Rome, 16 
Belgian College Rome, 16 
Belgian Congo, missions, 221 
Belgium, 45, 5<5, *99 321 
Belloc, Hilaire, cited, xvi-xvii 
Belvedere, Vatican, 22, 23 
Benedict, St n 254, 31 1 
Benedict XIV, Pope, 117, 122 
Benedict XV, Pope, 50, 54, 121, 

124 n., 127 

and Catholic Action, 320-1 

and Code of Canon Law, 149, 150 

and concordats, 161 

and Eastern Churches, 228, 239 

and liturgy, 306 

and missions, 203-4 

events of pontificate, 49 
Benedictines, 16, 113, 259, 262 

and liturgical movement, 279, 305, 

and revision of Vulgate, 152 
Benefices, 137, 140, 186, 191, 316 
Benemerenti medal, 146 
Bernard, St., 37 
Bernini, 22 

Beuron, abbey of, 306 
Bible, 278 

(see also Vulgate, revision of) 


Biblical Institute, Rome, 32, 59 
Biblical Studies, Pontifical Commis 
sion for, 47, 149 
Bishop, Edmund, 305 
Bishops, 96-7, 102, 107, 177 ff., 193, 

295-8 . 

administration of dioceses, 101-2 

and Catholic Action, 310 

and liturgical changes, 307-8 

and ordinations, 295-8 

and religious orders, 258-9 

and seminaries, 121, 280-2 
Bismarck, Otto von, 43, 44 
Blessed Sacrament, Chapel of, Vati 
can, 22 

censorship of, 96-7 

liturgical, 303-5 

(see also Index) 
Borghese family, 23 

apartments, 23 

family, 145 

Bramante, Donato, 21, 28 
Brazil, 46 

Breviary, 118, 299-300, 304, 308 
Briefs, Chancery of Apostolic, 146 
Briefs, papal, 67, 105 
Briefs to Princes, See Secretariat of 

Briefs to Princes 
British Empire, vi 

(see also England) 
Brothers of Christian Education of 

Ploermel, 208 
Brothers of the Christian Schools, 

208,218, 251,253 
Bulgaria, 104, 235, 244 
Bulls, papal, 114, 133-^, 135 
Burma, missions, 206, 212,213 
Bussolantiy 24 
Byrne, Bishop Patrick, 217 
Byzantine rite, Catholics of, 234-6 

Calcedonia, Council of, 37, 59 

Caligula, obelisk of, 23 

Cambodia, missions, 214 

Camera, Apostolic, 23, 67, 68, 69, 
133, 137-8, 154 

Carnerlengo of Holy Roman 
Church, Cardinal, 84, 135, 137-8, 

Carnerlengo of Sacred College, Car 
dinal, 137 


Cameroons, missions, 206 
Cana Conferences, 198, 328 
Canada, no, 208, 223 
Canadian College, Rome, 16 
Canali, Nicola Cardinal, 8, 1 14 
Canon Law, Code of, 6, 34, 49, 51, 

59, 104-5 

and cardinals, 71-2, 74, 154-5 

and censorship, 96-7 

and duties of Roman Offices, 

and duties of Consistorial Congre 
gation, 102 

and education, 266 

and hierarchy, 102, 181 

and missions, no 

and parishes, 190 

and religious orders, 108, 257-61 

and seminaries, 280-2 

application by Roman Tribunals, 

codification of, 145-50 

Commission for Interpretation of, 

Oriental Canon Law, 53, 59, 60, 

104, 150-1, 229 
Canonical hours, 300 
Canonization, 53, 84, 85-6, 113-16, 


Canons, cathedral, 181, 184 
Capuchins, 16, 113, 199, 220 
Cardijn, Abbe, 198 
Cardinals, x, 23, 70-86, 142, 174 

of Curia, 6, 70, 74, 86 

costume, 80-1 

electors of Pope, 71, 82-3 

protectors of religious orders, 258 

titular churches of, 72, 79, 81 
Carmelites, 16, 113, 251, 252, 262, 264 
Caroline Islands, affair of, 44 

missions in, 210-20 
Carroll, Archbishop John, 252, 271 
Carthage, Council of, 37 
Carthusians, 251 
Castelgandolfo, 25, 31-2, 63 
Casti connubii, encyclical, 52 
Catacombs, 29, 32, 152-3 
Catechists, native, 209 

(see also Confraternity of Chris 
tian Doctrine) 
Catherine of Siena, St., 311 
Catholic Action, xi, 52, 162, 197-8, 

211,306, 310-31 


Catholic Evidence Guilds, 315 
Catholic Library Association, 279 
Catholic Relief Services, 327 
Catholic Universe (London) , ix 
Catholic University of America, 46, 

271 n., 278 

Catholic Worker movement, 328 
Censor librorum y 97 
Center Party, German, 44 
Ceremonial of Bishops, liturgical 

book, 118,303,305 
Ceremonies, Congregation of, 23, 


Ceretti, Cardinal, 77-8 
Cerularius, patriarch of Constanti 
nople, 230 

Ceylon, missions, 208 
Chalcedon, Council of, 230 
Chaldean rite, Catholics of, 236 
Chamberlain, Cardinal. See Camer- 


Chamberlains, papal, 67, 145 
Chancellor, Cardinal, 84, 135, 138 
Chancellors, diocesan, 184-5 
Chancery, Apostolic, 28, 69, oo, 


Chapel, pontifical, 69-70, 119 
Chaplains of pontifical household, 

67, 69, 145 

Charge d'affaires, papal, 157-8 
Charlemagne, Emperor, 13, 15, 21, 


Charles Borromeo, St., 143 n. 
China, missions, 204, 208 

and Communism, 214-16, 244, 245 
Christ, Order of, 145 
Christian Brother. See Brothers of 

the Christian Schools 
Christus DoTmrws, constitution, 307 
Churchman, The, cited, ix 
Cicognani, Archbishop Amleto, 160 
Cipher, Secretary of, 67, 145 
Cistercians, 254 
Citizens of Vatican State, 6-7 
Clark, Gen. Mark W., 166 
Clement VII, Pope, 122 
Clement VIII, Pope, 19 
Clementine Hall, 24 

diocesan, i85fT. 

duties of, 187-8, 313 

hierarchy among, 173 ff. 


Clergy (Continued) 
immunities of, 187 
shortage of, in mission countries, 

222, 224 

Cletus, Pope St., tomb of, 18 

Cloistered nuns, new rules concern 
ing* 2 57 n - 

Coad jut or bishops, 178, 183 

Code of Canon Law. See Canon 

"Co-existence" with Communism, 


Colleges, Catholic, in U. S., 276 
Cologne, National Catholic Con 
gress (1956), 249 
Colonna, Prince, 69 
Columban Fathers, 213, 217, 218 
Commissions, papal and cardinalate, 

Communism, v-vi, 15, 57-8, 102-3, 

169, 175, 211 fF., 227 fL, 242-9 
Conclaves, 23, 125, 138 
Concordats, 50-2, 54-5, 120, 144, 158, 

161-2, 180, 316 
Confession of St. Peter, 22 
Confirmation, sacrament of, 177, 

178, 228, 294 

Confraternities, 3 1 8, 3 1 9 
Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 

277-8, 323 
Congregations, Sacred Roman, 28, 


(see also under name of each) 
Consalvi, Ercole Cardinal, 143, W 
Consistorial Congregation, 58, 100-3, 

121, 133, 160, 179, 182, 200 
Consistories, of cardinals, 76, 83-6, 


Constantine, Roman emperor, 4, 19, 

20, 29, 30 

Constitutions, Apostolic, 134-5 
Consultors, diocesan, 176, 182 
Convertendi, Palace of, 28-9 
Coppiere, papal, 67 
Coptic, as liturgical language, 228, 


Copts, 229, 230, 233-4 
Council, Congregation of the, 58, 

89, 105, 176, 261 
Council, Vatican, 34, 35* 37* 42, 43* 

J 57 
Councils, plenary and provincial, 



Counter-Reformation, 256, 318 

Court, papal, 5, 119 

Courts, Roman. See Tribunals 

Credit unions, 326 

Cum nobis, motu proprio, 121 

Curia, diocesan, 174, 182, 184-5 

Curia, Roman 

cardinals of, 6, 27 

reforms of, 48, 49* 9** 136-7* H7 
Gushing, Archbishop Richard, 93 
Cybo Palace, 31,32 
Cyprus, 104 
Czechoslovakia, 16, 50, 58, 235 

Dataria, Apostolic, 28, 90, 133, 136-7 
Datary, Cardinal, 66, 136-7, 13 8 
Deacons, 174* 187, 295, 297 
Dean (vicar-forane), 185 
Dean of Sacred College of Cardi 
nals, 4 1,7 3,82 n., 119 
Decorations, papal, 145 
Decretal letters, 134* *35 
Decretum laudis, of religious orders, 


Dei ens or vmculi, diocesan, 184 
De Foucauld, Charles, 263 
Delegates, apostolic, 11, 46, 157-60, 

1 8 1-2, 204 

DelTAcqua, Monsignor Angelo, 65 
Denmark, 222 
"Devil's advocate," 85, 113 
Dioceses, 100, 162, 174 

and Consistorial Congregation, 

100, 101 

bishops of, 177-9 

erection of, 133 

in mission territory, 210 

schools and seminaries in, 177 

vacancies of, 185 
Diplomacy of Holy See, x, 8, 11-12, 


(see also Secretariat of State) 
Diplomats accredited to Vatican, 4- 

5, 8-9, 15-16, 60, 119, 144* 163-^ 
Dispensations, 104-5, x 6* I2 3* 125, 

140, 178 
Divine Word, Society of the, 206, 


Documents, papal, 1 33~5 
Dominic, St., 100, 255 
Dominicans, 16, 113, 199, 216, 255 

and Holy Office, 92, 100 

and secular institutes, 262 


Dominicans (Continued} 

missionary work of, 109, 216, 219 
Third Order, 264 

Doumergue, Gaston, president of 
France, 78 

Drexel, Mother Katherine, 223 

Dubois, Cardinal, 78 

Duchesne, Louis, 305 

Durant, Pierre, 318 

Duririi, Carlo Francesco, papal nun 
cio, 1 17 

East Syrian rite, 236 

Easter vigil, 308 

Eastern Churches, 169, 227-41, 245 

canon law of, 53, 59, 60, 104, 150- 

(see also Oriental Church, Con 
gregation of) 

Eastern rites. See Eastern Churches 
Ecclesiastical affairs, bureaus of, in 

Communist countries, 247 
Education, Catholic, xi, 45, 53, 195, 

260, 265-83 
Egypt, 60, 104, 208 

(see also Copts) 

Election of Pope, 39-40, 71, 82-3 
Emigrants, Pontifical College of, 

Encyclicals, 134. See also under 

names of each 

England, 8, 10, 45, no, 159, 311 
England, Church of, 159, 164 
English College, Rome, 16 
Ephesus, Council of, 230 
Ephraem, St., 228 
Equerry, papal, 67 
Eritrea, 104 
Eskimos, missions, 222 
Esser, Father, cited, 97 
Ethiopia, 104 

Ethiopian Catholics, 229, 233-4 
Ethiopian College, Rome, 16, 206, 

Eucharistic Congresses, 55, 313 

Excommunication, 92, 96, 157, 178, 


Exorcists, 174, 187, 295 
Exterritorial possessions of Holy 

See, 5, 9, 26, 28-9 
Extreme Unction, sacrament of, 294 


Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, 
Congregation for, 101, 120, 144, 
1 80 

Fabric of St. Peter's, Congregation 

of, 122 

Family, papal, 66-9 
Farley, John Cardinal, 75 
Fascism, v-vi, 52, 54 
Fasting laws, 99-100, 106, 307 
Ferdinand the Catholic, Spanish 

king, 109 

Ferrata, G.B., 115 
Ferrua, A., S.J., 19 n. 
Fides Agency, 205, 212 
Fiji Islands, missions, 226 

and laity, 316 

income of cardinals, 81-2 

of dioceses, 101, 178 

of Holy See, 82, 138-42 

of missions, 112-13 

of parishes, 192, 193, 196 

of religious orders, 259 

of seminaries, 280 
Finland, 222, 234 
Fisherman's Ring, 38, 147 
Ford Foundation, 274, 279 
Foreign Missions of Milan, 213 
Formosa, Catholics in, 216 
France, 8, 10, 43, 45, 51, 199, 200 
Francis of Assisi, St., 255, 311, 312 
Francis Xavier, St., 217 
Franciscan Sisters of Mary, 208 
Franciscans, 16, 92, 113, 199, 279 

and secular institutes, 262 

missionary work of, 109, 217, 218 

Third Order, 264 
Frascati, diocese of, 73 
Freemasons, 96, 223 
French College, Rome, 16 
Friendship Houses, 328 
Fundamental Law of Vatican 

City, 5 

Gallicanism, 48, 1 17 

Ge'ez, as liturgical language, 228, 


Gemelli, Agosrino, O.F.M., 262 

Gendarmes, papal, 68, 69 

General Counselor of State of Vati 

Georgetown University, 272 


German Colleges, Rome, 16, 80 n. 
German-Hungarian College, Rome, 

Germany, 9-11, 43, 44, 50, 5i 52, 54i 

56, 198, 248, 321 

Gibbons, James Cardinal, 46, 75 
Gibraltar, under Propaganda, 222 
Giotto, 27 
Goa, 212 

Golden Militia, Order of, 145 
Governor of Vatican City, 7-8, 24-5 
Gracias, Valerian Cardinal, 2 1 2 
Grail Movement, 210, 263, 329 
Great Britain. See England 
Greek, as liturgical language, 234, 


Greek Catholics, 228, 234 
Gregorian music, 49 
Gregorian University, 16, 32, 282 
Gregory II, Pope, 37 
Gregory VII, Pope, 37 
Gregory XI, Pope, 20 
Gregory XIII, Pope, 25 
Gregory XV, Pope, 109 
Gregory XVI, Pope, 75, 143 
Guam, 1 60 
Gueranger, Dom Prosper, 305, 306 

Harnack, Adolf, vii 

Hawaii, Catholics in, 220 

Heraldry, Pontifical Commission of, 


Heresy, 92, 96 
Hierarchy, x, 45, 173-88, 258-9 

and Catholic Action, 3 10 rT. 

in Communist countries, 214-16, 
246 ff. 

in Eastern Churches, 230 ff. 

native, in mission countries, 206, 


principle of, 35 

Hildegard, St., 311 

Historical Sciences, International 
Congress of, vi, 1 52 

Historical Sciences, Pontifical Com 
mittee of, 152 

Hitler, Adolf, vi, 52 

Holland, 16, 56, no, 321 

Holy Childhood, Association of, 
112, 205-6, 223 

Holy Eucharist, sacrament of, 194, 
228, 307 
(see also Mass) 


Holy Ghost Fathers, 208, 220 

Holy Land, Medal of, 146 

Holy Office, Congregation of, 28, 

58, 89, 91-100, 104, 151 
Holy Orders, sacrament of, 186, 


Holy Sepulchre, Order of, 145 
Holy Week services, 308-9 
Holy Years, 53, 84, 125, 133, 207 
Hong Kong, Catholics in, 216 
Hospice, Master of Sacred, 67, 69 
Household, papal, 5, 66-9, 119 
Humani generis > encyclical, 58, 321 
Hungarian Ecclesiastical Institute, 

Rome, 1 6 

"Hungarian-Greek" Catholics, 234 
Hungary, 58, 238, 239, 245, 248 

Ignatius Loyola, St., 3 1 1 , 3 1 2 
Ignatius of Antioch, St., 37 
iflyria (Croatia), 16 
Immaculate Conception, dogma of 

the, 3 i, 42, 311 

Immortale Dei, encyclical, 161 
Imprimatur, 97 

Index librorum prohibitorum, 96-8 
India, vi, 45, 60 

missions, 206, 208, 212 
Indian missions, American, 222-3 
Indo-China, missions, 204, 213-14 

(see also Vietnam, Laos, Cam 
Indonesia, United States of, vi, 218- 


Indulgences, 124 

Ineffabilis Deus, encyclical, 311 

Infallibility, papal, xvi, 34, 36, 42 

Innocent VIE, Pope, 23 

Innocent XI, Pope, 116-17 

Inquisition, papal, 91, 92 

Institute of Sacred Music, 16 

International agencies, Vatican rep 
resentation on, 167-8 

Inter praecipuas, constitution, 152 

Interracial Councils, Catholic, 329 

Iran, 104 

Iraq, 104, 236 

Ireland, 10, 45, no, 311 

Irish College, Rome, 16 

Iron Curtain countries. See Commu 

Islamism. See Mohammedanism 

Italian Communist Party, 9 


Italian law, and Vatican City, 6, 7 

Italo-Greek Catholics, 234 


and Vatican, 4 if., 43, 50-1 

and World War II, 9, 56 

Communists in, 199 

indemnity to Holy See, 139-40 

Jacobini, Cardinal, 157 
Jacobites, 230, 231, 232 
Jansenism, 48 

Japan, missions, 206, 208, 217-18 
Jaricot, Pauline, 205, 313 
Jesuits, 1 6, 113, 199, 262, 312 

and education, 269, 279 

and missions, 218, 219, 220, 223 

and Russicum, 240 

and Vatican Radio, 26 

formation of, 256 
Jews, 10, 1 68, 271 
Jocists, 198, 328 

John Baptist de la Salle, St., 253 
John of the Cross, St., 53 
John XII, Pope, 36 
Johnson, Andrew, president of 

U.S., 165 
Jordan, 104 
Josi, Enrico, 19 
Julius II, Pope, 21, 23, 68 
Jurisdiction, divisions of, 174 

Kim, Paul, 217 

Kirschbaum, E., S.J., 19 n. 

Knights of Columbus, 27, 327 

Knights Templars, 255 

Kolping, Adolf, 198 

Korea, missions, 206, 216-17, 246 

Khrushchev, Nikita, 242 

Kulturktrmpfj 43 

Kyriale, liturgical book, 303 

La Salette, missionaries of, 213, 220 
Labor, Church and, 47, 52, 328 

and liturgy, 284 if. 

and Catholic education, 273 

Catholic Action of, 52, 310-31 
Laity, Committee for International 

Congresses of, 321 
Lambertini, Cardinal, 1 17 
Laos, missions, 208, 213, 214 
Lateran Athenaeum, 16 
Lateran Council, 37 


Lateran Palace, 20, 22 

(see also St. John Lateran, Basil 
ica of) 
Lateran Treaties, 4-9, 12, 13, 24, 29, 

31,50-1,153, 163 

as liturgical language, 228, 307-8 

official language of Holy See, 6 
Latin-America, Catholicism in, 


Latin- American College, Rome, 16 
Latin Letters, Secretariat of, 67 
Latin rite, 103, 106, 120, 169, 303 
Latvia, 51 
Law of Guarantees, 140. See also 

Lateran Treaties 
Lawrence, St., 22 
Lay action. See Catholic Action 
Lay apostolate. See Laity 
Lay missionaries, 209-10 
Lazarists. See Vincentians 
League of Nations, vi, 161 
Lebanon, 60, 104, 232 
Lectors. See Readers 
Legates, papal, 119-20, 157-8,175 
Legion of Mary, 329 
Lenin, V. I., cited, 242-3, 244 
Leo III, Pope, 13 
Leo IV, Pope, 20 
Leo DC, Pope, 230 
Leo X, Pope, 23 
Leo XIII, Pope, 25^6, 75, 9^, 320 

and Biblical studies, 149 

and concordats, 161 

events of pontificate, 44-7 
Leprosaria, Catholic, 207, 220 
Liberius, Pope, 30 
Library Association, Catholic, 279 
Library of Congress, U. S., 27 
Library, Vatican, 22, 23, 27-8, 50, 


Limoges, seminary at, 200 
Linus, Pope St., tomb of, 18, 37 
Lisieux, basilica of, 55, 140 n. See 

also Therese of Lisieux, St. 
Lithuania, 51 

Liturgical Conference, U. S., 279 
Liturgical Movement, 284, 305-9 
Liturgical year, 300-3, 308 
Liturgy, <5o, 113, 118, 284-309, 314 

of Eastern Churches, 227 if. 
Lombardi, Riccardo, SJ,, 201 
Lombardy College, 32 


Longinqua oceam spatia, encyclical, 

Loreto, sanctuary of, in Recanate, 

31, 140 

Louis XIV, king of France, 117 
Lourdes, 61, 140 n. 
Lubac, Henri de, cited, viii, 14 
Luke, St., 30 
Luxembourg, 56, no 
Lyons, Council of, 230 

McCloskey, John Cardinal, 75 
Mclntyre, James Francis Cardinal, 


Madagascar, missions, 208, 220 
Maderna, 21, 31 
Maglione, Cardinal, 142 
Maistre, Joseph de, cited, 36 
Majordomo of Pope, 67, 145 
Malabar Catholics, 230, 236 
Makcca, missions, 206 
Malankarese Catholics, 232-3 
Malta, Knights of, 145, 255 
Manchuria, missions, 216 
Manoel of Portugal, King, 109 
Maori missions, 220 
Mar Ivanios, Bishop, 233 
Marconi, G., 26 
Maredsous, abbey of, 306 
Maria-Laach, abbey of, 306 
Marianas Islands, 160 
Marists, 219, 220 

Maronite College, Rome, 16, 232 
Maronites, 228-9, 2 3 2 
Marriage, 109 

and Congregation of Sacraments, 

and Roman Rota, 1 30-2 

annulments of, 104, 131-2 

dispensations, 98-9 

encyclicals on, 52, 59 

impediments to, 104-5 

mixed, 98 

of Oriental clergy, 1 88, 228 

"Pauline privilege," 98 

with Catholics of Eastern rites, 

(see also Matrimony, sacrament 


Marshall Islands, missions, 219-20 
Martyrology, liturgical book, 303, 

Marxist atheism, 57, 242 


Mary Hill, missionaries of, 208 
Mary Immaculate, Oblates of, 223 
MaryknoU, missionaries of, 208, 216, 

217, 218,219, 220 
Masonic Digest^ ix 
Mass, 189-00* 195, *9<5, 284, 287-92 

dialogue, 307 

evening, 307 
Mathias, St., 30 

Matrimony, sacrament of, 297-8, 314 
Mauritius Island, 220 
Maxrma Redemptiome, decree, 308 
Medals, papal, 146 
Mediator Dei, encyclical, 59, 307, 


Medical missionaries, 207, 210 
Medici family, 143 
Melchiades, Pope, 20, 29 
Melkites, 234 

Merry del Val, Rafael Cardinal, 1 14 
Mertel, Cardinal, 72 n. 
Metropolitans, 174, 175, 176 
Mexican immigrants, 201 
Mexico, 52 
Micara, Cardinal, 1 15 
Michelangelo, 21, 22 
Military Ordinaries, 100 
Mill Hill, missionaries of, 219 
Mindszenty, Joseph Cardinal, 58, 78, 

236, 246 

Miracles, proof of, 116 
Missal, liturgical book, 118, 303-4, 

Mission Crusade, Catholic Students', 

207, 326 

Mission de France (see Priest- 
Missionary Ethnological Museum, 

28, 207 
Missionary Union of the Clergy, 

112-13, 205 
Missions, 176, 100, 203-224 

and Pius XI, 52-3 

and Pius XII, 60 

support of, 142, 223 

(see also Propagation of the Faith, 

Congregation for) 

Mit brermender Sorge, encyclical, 52 
Modernism, 48, 96 

Mohammedanism, 210, 218, 221, 224 
Mongolia, missions, 216 
Monophysites, 230, 233 
Mooney, Edward Cardinal, 76 


Montaigne, Michel de, cited, 15 

Mont Cesar, abbey of, 306 

Monuments of the Holy See, Com 
mission for, 153 

Motion Pictures, Radio and Televi 
sion, Pontifical Commission for, 


Motu proprio, 134 
Mozarabic rite, 303 
Munificentissimzis Dew, encyclical, 


Museum of the Propaganda, 109 

Museums, Vatican, 27, 29, 140, 153 

Music, liturgical, 306 

Mussolini, Benito, 9, 56, 265 

Mystical experiences, and Holy Of 
fice, 99 

Mystici Corporis, encyclical, 58, 307, 

Narbeth Movement, 324 

National Catholic Educational As 
sociation, 278 

National Catholic Welfare Confer 
ence, U. S., 56-7, 167-8, 273, 275, 
organization of, 322-7 

National Council of Catholic Men, 

National Council of Catholic 
Women, NCWC, 324 

National Socialism. See Nazism 

Native clergy, 206, 211 

Natucci, Monsignor, 115 

Navigator Islands, missions, 220 

Nazism, v-vi, 52, 54 

Negroes in U. S., 222, 273 

Nero, Roman emperor, 29 

Nestorians, 230, 236 

Neumann, Theresa, 99 

Neutrality of Holy See, 8, 49 

New Caledonia, missions, 220 

New Guinea, missions, 220 

New Hebrides, missions, 220 

New Nursia, abbey of, 220 

New York Herald Tribune, ix 

New York Times, ix 

New Zealand, missions in, 220 

Newfoundland, 1 10, 223 

Newman Clubs, 278, 326 

Newman, John Henry Cardinal, 
cited, 3 1 1 

Newsweek, ix 


Nicholas IE, Pope, 37 

Nicholas V, Pope, 20-1, 22 

Noble Antechamber, 67 

Noble Guard, 5, 24, 67, 68, 119, 160 

Non abbiamo bisogno, papal letter, 


Norbert, St., 264 

North American College, Rome, 16 
North Carolina Catholic, The, ix-x 
Norway, 222 
Nuncios, papal, n, 157-8, 181-2 

Oblates of Mary Immaculate, 208 
Observatory, Vatican, 25-6, 47 
Oceania, missions, 208, 218-20 
O'Connell, William Cardinal, 75 
Office, canonical. See Breviary 
Offices, Roman, 133-47 
Official Catholic Directory, 274 
Officialis, of diocese, 184 
Opera della Religione, Vatican 

bank, 1 39 

Opus Dei, secular institute, 263 
Oratorian Fathers, 256 
Order of Golden Militia, 145 
Order of Pius IX, 145 
Order of St. Gregory, 145 
Order of St. Sylvester, 145 
Orders and decorations, papal, 145-6 
Orders, Religious. See Religious 


Ordinaries. See Bishops 
Ordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. See 

Secretariat of State 
Oregon School Case, 324 
Oriental Church, Congregation of, 

28-9, 100, 103-4, no, 151, 180, 239 
Oriental Studies, Pontifical Institute 

for, 32, 53, 239-40 
Orientales Dimes, encyclical, 58 
Orientis catholici, motu proprio 9 


Orsini, Prince, 69 
Osservatore Romano, 10, 155, 166, 


Ostia and Porto, diocese of, 7, 73 
Oxford Movement, 45 
Ozanam, Frederic, 3 1 3 

Pacca, Bartolommeo Cardinal, 143 
PacelJi, Eugenio. See Pius XII, Pope 
Pakistan, vi, 60, 2 1 2-1 3 

Palatine administration, 148, 155 

(see also Household, papal) 
Palatine cardinals, 66-7 
Palatine Guard, 5, 67, 68 
Palestine, 104, 168, 208 
Palestrina, diocese of, 73 
Papal States, annexation by Italy, 4, 

Paris Foreign Mission Society, 213, 


Parishes, 186, 189-201 
Parishioners, 194-8 
Parochial schools, 267, 273-6 
Passionist Monastery, Rome, 32 
Passionists, missionaries, 218 
Pastors, 1 8 1, 185, 1 86, 189-201 
Patriarchs, 174, 175 
Patrizi, Marquis, 68 
Paul in, Pope, 23, 91, 92, 126 
Paul V, Pope, 23 
Paul the Apostle, St., 4, 30 
Pauline Chapel, 23 
"Pauline privilege," 98 
Pax Romana, 167, 326 
Peking, Catholic University of, 214 
Penal code for Vatican City, 6 
Penance, sacrament of, 294-5 
Penitentiary, Cardinal Major, 124-5, 

Penitentiary, Sacred Apostolic, 


Peter Canisius, St., 52-3 
Peter the Apostle, St., 3, 4, 30 

tomb of, 18-19, 59, 122 
Peter's Pence, 139, 142 
Petrianurn Museum, 153 
Philippine Islands, 160, 208, 219 
Photius, 230 
Picpus Fathers, missionaries, 208, 


Pierami, Abbot, 1 14 
Pinacoteca, Vatican, 27 
Pinturicchio, 23 
Pio, Father, 99 
Pious unions, 318, 319 
Pius IV, 26, 143 n. 
Pius VI, Pope, 157 
Pius VII, Pope, 30, 143 
Pius IX, Pope, 43, 45, 75, 165, 311 
Pius IX, Order of, 145 
Pius X, Pope St., 32 

and Biblical studies, 149, 152 

and canon code, 149-50 


Pius X (Continued) 

and Catholic Action, 321, 331 

and catechetical instruction, 277 

and liturgical reforms, 305-6 

Curial reforms of, 49, 91, 136-7 

election of, 40, 47 

events of pontificate, 48-9 
Pius XI, 12, 1911., 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 

114,142, 151-3 

and Catholic Action, 306, 310, 321 

and concordats, 161 

and Eastern Churches, 151, 239 

and education, 265-6 

and Lateran treaties, 5, 29, 31, 50-1 

and missions, 203-6, 207 

events of pontificate, 50-4 
Pius XII, Pope, vi, 8, 10, 19, 24, 27, 


and Biblical studies, 145 

and canonization of Pius X, 115- 

and choice of cardinals, 76 

and Catholic Action, 310, 321, 331 

and concordats, 161 

and Eastern Churches, 103-4 

and international cooperation, 

and liturgy, 307, 308 

and missions, 206, 207, 215, 222 

and secular institutes, 261 

daily life of, 64-6 

events of pontificate, x, 10-11, 54- 


Poland, 16, 50, 51, 56, 235, 248 
Polish-Soviet War, 50 
Pompei, sanctuary of, 1 54 
Pontifical Academy of Science, 26 
Pontifical Commission for Govern 
ment of Vatican City, 8, 65 
Pontifical, liturgical book, 118, 177, 

i79, 183, 303, 304 
Pontigny, seminary at, 200 

apartment of, Vatican, 23-4 

Bishops of Rome, 29, 36, 38, 82 

costume of, 38-9 

election and coronation, 30-41 

daily life and work, 62-6 

Hifallibility of, 34, 36, 42 

primacy of, 34 

tities, 36-7 
Porters, minor clerical order, 174, 

187, 295 


Portugal, 1 6, 51, 109-10 

Possessions of Holy See, administra 
tion of, 82, 138-42, 143 

Post Office, Vatican, 26, 27, 67, 140 

Pre-Cana Conferences, 198, 328 

Prefects apostolic, 176, 100 

Prefectures, apostolic, 210-1 1 

Prelates, domestic, 67 

Prelatures millius, 177 

Presbyterian Banner, ix 


Catholic, viii, 52, 324 
Office, Vatican, 155 
(see also Vatican Press) 

Priests, 186-8 

(see also Pastors, Holy Orders) 

Priest-Workers, 190-200 

Primates, 175 

Primo -feliciter, motu proprio, 107, 

Prisoners of war. See Vatican Of 
fice of Information 

Pro Ecclesiae et Poutifice, medal, 

Probst, Ferdinand, 305 

"Progressive Catholics," in Commu 
nist countries, 247 

Promoter of justice, diocesan, 184, 

Promtdgardi, apostolic constitution, 

Pronotarial prelates, 67, 69, 145 

Pronouncements, papal, 14 

Propagation of the Faith, Congre 
gation of the ("de Propaganda 
Fide"), loo, 101, 108-13, 133, 159, 
176, 1 80, 205, 210, 261 
(see also Missions) 

Propagation of the Faith, Society 
for, 112, 205,222-3,313, 327 

Protestant Reformation, 136, 143, 

Provida Mater Ecclesiae, apostolic 
constitution, 107, 261 

Provincials of religious orders, 184, 

Prussia, concordat with Holy See, 


Psychiatry and religion, 59 
Puerto Ricans, 201 

Quadragesimo camo, encyclical, 52 
Quartermaster, papal, 67 


Quas primas, encyclical, 53 
Quasi-dioceses, 210 
Quasi-parishes, 186, 191, 211 
Quinquennial reports, 1 1 2 

Radio, Vatican, 1 1, 26, 142 

Railway Station, Vatican, 25 

Rampolla, Cardinal, 40 

Raphael, 21, 23, 27 

Ratio Studiorwn of Jesuits, 269 

Rarti, Achille. See Pius XI, Pope 

Readers, minor clerical order, 174, 

187, 295 

Rectors of churches, 186 
Redemptorists, 16 
Relics, 1 1 8- 10 

Relief Organization, Papal, 154 
Religious, Congregation of, 106-8, 

Religious orders and congregations, 

xi, 250-64, 318 

and Eastern rites, 238-9 

and education, 267 fL 

charged with parishes, 186, 191, 

exempt, 176, 179 

Roman houses of study, 16 
Religious of the Sacred Heart, 218 
Renaissance, 20, 22, 256, 269 
Rerwn Ecclesiae, encyclical, 203 
Rerum novantm, encyclical, 47, 52 
Rerwn orientalism, apostolic con 
stitution, 239 
Retreats, 3 14, 330 
Reunion Islands, missions, 220 
Reversvrus, papal bull, 237 
Rhodes, Knights of, 146 
Ribbentrop, Joachim von, 56 
Rites, Congregation of, 84, 85, 104, 

Ritual, liturgical book, 1 18, 303, 304, 


Robert Bellarmine, St., 36, 54 
Roman Curia. See Curia, Roman 
Romania, 16, 51, 58, 235, 245, 246 
Romanian rite Catholics, 234 

as papal city, 3-17 

during World War n, o-i i 
Rome, Commission for Preservation 

of Faith in, 154 
Rome, Council of, 37, 268 

34 8 

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, presi 
dent of U. S., 165 

Rosellino of Florence, 21 

Rossi, J. B. de, 152-3 

Rota, Sacred Roman, 7, 69, 86, 113, 
127, 128-31 

Ruanda, missions, 221 

Rural Life Conferences, Catholic, 


Rusins of Subcarpathia, 234 
Russia, 43, 44 

and Eastern rite Catholics, 235, 


Communism in, v-vi 

Pius XFs attempted negotiations 
with, 51, 52 

religion in, 244 

(see also Communism) 
Russia, Pontifical Commission for, 

1 20 

Russian refugees, 104 
Russicum, 16, 32, 53, 140 n n 239, 240 
Russo-German agreement of 1939, 


Ruthenia (the Ukraine), 16 
Ruthenians, 44-5, 58, 191, 234 

Sabina and Velletri, diocese of, 73 
Sacram Conrmuwonem, motit pro- 

prio, 307 

Sacramentals, 298-9 
and liturgy, 293-8 
duty of pastors to administer, 190, 

Sacraments, Congregation of the, 98, 


Sacred College of Cardinals, 70-86 
consistories, 76, 83-6 
divisions of, 72-3 

during vacancy of Holy See, 138 
election to, 7 1, 73 ff. 
nationalities represented, 75-6 
privileges of members, 82-3 
religious orders represented, 80-1 
vacancies in, 73, 76, 84 
Sacristan of Apostolic Palaces, 67, 69 
Sacristans, parish, 196 
St. Andre, abbey of, 306 
St. Angelo, Castle of, 20, 29 
St. Anselm, Athenaeum of, 16 
St. Anthony, sanctuary in Padua, 31, 


St. Apoilinaris, palace of, 32 

St. Benedict Center, Boston, 93-6 

St. Calixtus, Palace of, 28 

St. Damasus, Court of, 23, 24 

St. Francis of Assisi, sanctuary of, 

31, 140 

St. Gregory, Order of, 145 
St. John Lateran, Basilica of, 29, 125 

(see also Lateran Palace) 
St. John of Jerusalem, Hospitallers 

of, 145-6 
St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, 

Minn., 306 

St. Louis University, 27-8 
St. Mary Major, Basilica of, 29, 125 
St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, 

St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls, Basilica 

of, 30 

St. Paul, Society of, 262 
St. Peter the Apostle, Pontifical 

Work of, 53, 112, 205, 206 
St. Peter's Basilica, 63, 125, 
chapter of, 148 
Congregation of Fabric of, 122 
history and description, 13, 18-22 
St. Peter's Piazza, 9, 20, 23 
St. Petronilla, church of in Rome, 15 
St. Sylvester, Order of, 145 
St. Teresa, secular institute of, 263 
St. Vincent de Paul, Society of, 313, 


Sts. John and Paul, church of, 32 
Salesians, 213 

Salvatorian monastery, Rome, 9 
Sampietrini, 19 n. 
San Carlo ai Catinari, 3 1 
San Juan, college of, Manila, 219 
Sanations, 125-6 
Santo Tomas, Manila University 

of, 219 
Sapiemi consilio, constitution, no, 

126, 135 

Saracens, assault on Rome, 20 
Satolli, Francesco Cardinal, 46, 160 
Schent, missionaries of, 208, 219 
Schlachta, Sister Margit, 263 
Schoenstatt Sisters, 263 
Schola Francomm, 15 
Schuster, Cardinal, 9 
Science, Pontifical Academy of, 53, 

Scotland, 1 10 


Scots College, Rome, 16 

Scott, James Brown, cited, 5 

Scottish hierarchy, 45 

Secretariat of Briefs to Princes, 133 
134,136, 146-7 

Secretariat of Latin Letters, 23, 134, 
146-7 ^ 

Secretariat of State, 14, 23, 69, 120, 
133, 142-6,147, 159 

Secretary of State, Cardinal, 6, 31, 
66, 1 20, 142-5 

Secular Institutes, xi, 107, 261-3 

Sedes Sapientiae, apostolic consti 
tution, 282 

Segregation, Catholics and, 273 

Seminaries, 276, 279-83 
in mission countries, in, 211 
study of liturgy in, 286 

Seminaries and Universities, Con 
gregation of, 53, 102, 1 21-2, 280 

Serafini, Marchese, 8 

Servites, 1 6, 113, 264 

Seychelles Island, 220 

Shanghai, Catholic University of, 

Sheil, Bishop Bernard, 326 

Shintoism, 217-18 

Sz'grz, The, ix 

Signatura, Supreme Apostolic, 69, 

Signatura of Sacred Penitentiary, 

Sinai Peninsula, 104 

Sinkiang, missions, 216 

Sister Formation Conference, 279 

Sisters of Charity, 208, 251 

Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, 208 

Sistine Chapel, 22, 23, 39, 78 

Sixtus IV, Pope, 22 

Sixtus V, Pope, 21, 23, 29, 71, 106, 
128, 143 

Slavonic, as liturgical language, 234 

Social Service Sisters, 263 

Sodalities, 261, 318, 319 

Solesmes, abbey of, 305 

Solomon Islands, 220 

Spain, u, 16, 52, 109-10 

Special Administration, 138, 141 
(see also Finances of Holy See) 

Spellman, Francis Cardinal, 76 

Spiritualism, and Holy Office, 99 

Sponsa Christiy apostolic constitu 
tion, 257 n. 


Stalin, Joseph V., 242, 244, 247-8 
State-Church relations, 51, 162, 164 
State of Vatican City. See Vatican 


Stefanori, Giovanni, 65 
Stephen, St., 22 
Stepinac, Aloysius Cardinal, 58, 78, 


Stritch, Samuel Cardinal, 76 
Subdeacons, 174, 187, 295, 296 
Sudan, missions, 206 
Suhard, Cardinal, 320 
Sulaqa, John, 236 
Sulpicians, 220, 256, 281 
Swnmi pontificatus, encyclical, 55, 


Sundras, missions, 219 
Sweden, under Propaganda, 222 
Switzerland, 167 
Swiss Guard, 5, 24, 67, 68 
Switzerland, 321 
Sylvester, Pope, 29 
Symmachus, Pope St., 19-20 

diocesan, 183-4 

provincial, 175 
Syria, 60, 104 

Syrian Catholics, 231-3, 236 
Syriac, as liturgical language, 231, 


Tardini, Monsignor Domenico, 65 

Tatsua Doi, Peter, Archbishop, 218 

Taylor, Myron C, 165-6 

Testem benevolentiae, apostolic let 
ter, 47 

Thailand, missions, 213, 216 

Theodoric, emperor, 268 

Therese of Lisieux, St., 53 

Third Orders, 107, 263-4, 3*8 

Thomas Aquinas, St., 268 

"Three Autonomies," movement of, 

Tibet, missions, 216 

Tien-chensin, Thomas Cardinal, 206 

Times, The (London), ix 

Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 112, 

Tisserant, Eugene Cardinal, 73 n. 

Titian, 27 

Trade unions, Catholic, 328 

Trappists, 255 


Trent, Council of, 74, 75, 96, 105, 

152, 173-4, 177, 187, 280 
Tribunals, Roman, 14, 123-32, 140 
Truman, Harry S., president of 

U. S., 1 66, 1 68 
Turkey, 104 
Twelve Apostles, Basilica of, 32 

Uganda, missions, 221 
Ukrainians, 50, 234, 235, 245 
Uniats. See Eastern Churches 
United Nations, vi, 167-8, 217, 279, 


United States, v, 10, 46, 55, 57, no 
apostolic delegation to, 159-60 
Catholic education in, 270-9 
contributions to Holy See, 139, 


representation at Vatican, 150-60 
(see also National Catholic Wel 
fare Conference) 

Universities, 269, 276 

Urandi, missions, 221 

Urban VIII, Pope, 21, 22, 31 

Urban College, "de Propaganda 
Fide," 16, 112, 282 

USSR. See Russia 

Vacancy of Holy See, 39-40, 125, 


Vaison, Council of, 267 

description and history of, 13, 1 8- 


Vatican City, State of, 4, 12, 127 
administration of, 8, 65, 141, 148 
neutrality of, 167 
sovereignty, 4-6 

Vatican Library* See Library, Vati 

Vatican News Service, 131 

Vatican Office of Information, 11- 


Vatican Press, 90 
VatteL, Emmerich de, cited, 5 
Vernacular, in liturgy, 228, 307-8, 



Versailles, Treaty of, 52 
Vestments, liturgical, 292 
Vicar-forane, 185 
Vicar, of diocese of Rome, Cardinal, 

79-80, 148 

Vicariate of Rome, 29, 153, 154 
Vicariates, mission, 190, 210 
Vicars apostolic, 176 
Vicars general, of dioceses, 174, 184 
Victor Emmanuel II, king of Italy, 

Victor Emmanuel III, king of Italy, 


Vienna, Congress of, 82, 158 
Vietnam, 213-14, 246 
Vigilanti cura, encyclical, 52 
Vincenrians, 219, 256 
Vinci, Leonardo da, 27 
Visitations, of bishops, 179 
Visitor, apostolic, 160 

missionary, 207-9 

religious, 252-4 
Vocations to the Priesthood, 

Pontifical Work for, 121-2 
Vows, taken by religious, 257, 258 
Vulgate, revision of, 152 

Wallis and Fortuna, mission terri 
tory, 220 

War Relief Services, NCWC, 56 

Warsaw, Poknd, 1 1 

West Syrian rite, 231-3 

White Fathers, 208 

Wilson, President Woodrow, 49 

Workers, 198-201 
(see also Priest-Workers) 

World Federalists, 168 

Wurzburg, medical mission institute, 

Wyszynski, Stefan Cardinal, 248 

Yalta, Conference of, 217 

Youth organizations, Catholic, 326 

Yugoslavia, 58, 234, 235, 245 

Zolli, Rabbi, ion.