Friday, November 16, 2012

Note on the Participants in the Celebration of the Pact of the Catacombs, Catacomb of Saint Domitilla, Rome, November 16, 1965

This document by Fr. José Oscar Beozzo is available in its original Portuguese on the website of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. It is part of a collection of documents celebrating the 2009 centennial of Dom Helder Camara. English translation by Rebel Girl

Actually, I've had access to two attendance lists, at different points in the Council (1962 and 1964), of the bishops who participated in the "Church of the Poor" Group. Those lists were among the papers of Cardinal Lercaro, deposited at the Istituto per le Scienze Religose in Bologna.

However, I don't have the list of those 39 bishops who were in the celebration of Mass at the Catacomb of Saint Domitilla on November 16, 1965, when they signed the Pact of the Catacombs. They wanted to have a discreet celebration away from the press, with few bishops (originally it was supposed to be only 20), to prevent their gesture of simplicity and commitment from being interpreted as a "lesson" to the other bishops. So much so that the first news of the celebration only appeared in a note by Henri Fesquet in the newspaper Le Monde, more than three weeks later, at the close of the Council on December 8, 1965, under the title "Un groupe d'évêquês anonymes s'engage à donner le témoignage extérieur d'une vie de stricte pauvreté” ("A group og anonymous bishops commit themselves to giving external witness to a life of strict poverty" -- Henri Fesquet, in Journal du Concile. Forcalquier: Robert Morel Editeur, 1966, pp. 1110-1113). The news item didn't name names.

A list exists of those who participated in that celebration. It can be found among the papers of Msgr. Charles Marie Himmer, bishop of Tournai in Belgium, who presided at the concelebration that morning and gave the homily. It's document 80 of the "Papiers Himmer" deposited in the Vatican II Archives at the University of Louvain. I didn't have access to this document but it's possible to request it from the university, if Jon Sobrino or PUC-Rio is interested. M. Lamberigts, professor of History at Louvain and Claude Soetens, also a historian at Louvain-la-Neuve could eventually locate the document.

I can say that from Brazil, [the following bishops] participated in the celebration: Dom Antônio Fragoso (Crateús-CE), Dom Francisco Austregésilo Mesquita Filho (Afogados da Ingazeira - PE), Dom João Batista da Mota e Albuquerque, archbishop of Vitória, ES, Fr. Luiz Gonzaga Fernandes who was to be consecrated auxilliary bishop of Vitória a few days later right there in Rome, Dom Jorge Marcos de Oliveira (Santo André-SP), Dom Helder Camara, Dom Henrique Golland Trindade, OFM, archbishop of Botucatu, SP, Dom José Maria Pires, archbishop of Paraíba, PB.

From other countries: Mgr. Georges Mercier, bishop of Laghouat in the Sahara, Mgr. Hakim, Melchite bishop of Nazareth, Mgr. Haddad, Melchite bishop, auxilliary bishop of Beirut, Mgr. Gérard Marie Coderre, bishop of Saint Jean de Quebec in Canada, Mons. Rafael Gonzalez Moralejo, auxilliary bishop of Valencia in Spain, Mons. Julius Angerhausen, auxilliary bishop of Essen in Germany; from France, Mgr. Guy Marie Riobé, bishop of Orleans, Mgr. Gérard Huyghe de Arras, Mgr. Adrien Gand, auxilliary bishop to Cardinal Liénart in Lille; from Italy, Mons. Luigi Betazzi, auxilliary bishop to Cardinal Lercaro in Bologna in those days; from Africa, Dom Bernard Yago, archbishop of Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Joseph Blomjous, bishop of Mwanza, in Tanzania; from Asia, Mons. Charles Joseph de Melckebeke, a Belgian but bishop of Ningxia in China, expelled and dying in Singapore.

There were also bishops from Vietnam and Indonesia. From other countries in Latin America, those who participated in the Church of the Poor group: Mons. Manuel Larrain from Talca in Chile, Mons. Marco Gregorio McGrath from Panama (Diocese of Santiago de Veraguas), Mons. Leonidas Proaño from Riobamba, Ecuador; from Argentina, Mons. Alberto Devoto from the Diocese of Goya, Mons. Vicente Faustino Zazpe from the Diocese of Rafaela, Mons. Juan José Iriarte from Reconquista; from Uruguay, Mons. Alfredo Viola, bishop of Salto and his auxilliary, Mons. Marcelo Mendiharat; from Colombia, Mons. Tulio Botero Salazar, archbishop of Medellín and his auxilliary, Medina; Muñoz Duque from Pamplona, Raúl Zambrano from Facatativá and Mons. Angelo Cuniberti, apostolic vicar of Florencia.

These were the most faithful of the group, but to know if they were there at the Mass, you have to check the list from that day.

I also know that Paul Gauthier and Marie Thérèse Lescaze, both French but living in Palestine and leaders of the Fraternity of Jesus the Carpenter in Nazareth and of the Church of the Poor Group at the Council, attended the celebration.

A more public moment of the "Church of the Poor" group occured in the third session, when two documents prepared there, in November 1964, received the support of more than 500 conciliar fathers: Simplicitas et paupertas evangélica (Simplicity and evangelical poverty) and Ut in nostro ministério primus locus pauperum evangelizationi tribuatur (So that in our [episcopal] ministry, first place is given to the evangelization of the poor).

José Oscar Beozzo
São Paulo, 6/26/2009

4 comments:

  1. De Colombia sabemos que también firmó Monseñor Gerardo Valencia Cano,Obispo de Buenaventura, muerto en un "accidente" 21 Enero de 1972

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  2. Gracias, Olga. Creo que el Rvdo. Beozzo estaba tratando de reconstruir quienes podrian haber estado presentes en esta celebracion. Como el mismo dice, no tiene una lista completa de todas las personas...

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  3. Aquí te envío la respuesta de un obispo de Québec (Canadá)y que fue uno de los participantes de ese grupo. Se llama Paul-Emile Charbonneau y vive todavía. Fue obispo de la diócesis de Hull en Québec. Este blog es de la diócesis de Gatineau y yo me llamo Miguel A. Sancha. Te autorizo a que traduzcas ese texto en inglés y a que lo publiques. El original está en francés. Y nosotros tenemos el copyright sobre ese texto.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Paul-Émile Charbonneau
    To: boisvert.dominique.@gmail.com
    Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 6:30 PM
    Subject: l'Église des pauvres


    Bonjour M. Dominique,

    Avec Mgr Coderre, j'ai fait partie du groupe « l'Église des Pauvres ».Ce groupe a été fondé par l'abbé Gauthier, prêtre de Nazareth. Ce prêtre distribuait aux évêques, sur la place St-Peirre, des papiers sur la pauvreté et en paticulier sur l'Église des pauvres. Un jour, il invita tous les Pères du Concile à une rencontre au Collège belge pôur parler des pauvres.
    Mon bon ami, Mgr Coderre m:invita à l'accompagner à la réunion au Collège Belge. Nous nous sommes retrouivés 20 évêques sur 2500.
    Il y avait là de grands épiscopes: le cardinal Gerlier de France, Mgr Camara du Brésil, le cartdinal Lercaro d:Italie, Mgr Himmmer de Belgique, Mgr Mercier du Sahara, Mgr Ancel de France. etc...Mgr Coderre a étéfidèle à toutes les réunions qui se tenaient à toutes les xsemaines. Quant à moi, j'ai du quitter le groupe pour m.occuper de l'organisation des rencontres «« théologiens-évêques canadiens » . Mais Mgr Coderre me tenait régulièrement compte des rencontres. C.est Mgr Lercaro qui pris le leadership du groupe. Le groupe de « l'Église des Pauvres » était un un groupe un peu marginalisé au Concile Par ailleurs son influence a été grande dans l Élaboration des documents. Nous avions demandé aux P<ères du Concile de produire un document spécial sur la pauvreté. ça nous a été refusé, Par contre, nous retrouvonws dans presque chaque document, de petites parenthèses sur l'Église des pauvres, Par exemple la fameuse première phrase de « Gaudium et Spes » « les joies et les espoirs, les tristesses et les angoisses DES HOMMES DE CE TEMPSa. des PAUVRES surtout, et dxe tous c eux qui souffrent sont aussi les joies et les espoirs, les tristesses et les angoisses des disciples du Christ...» Cette première phrase vient de notre groupe. J'ai dit plus haut que nous étions marginalisés, mais très bien acceptés des confrères-évêques,

    Cette expérience du Concile m'a profondément marqué dans ma vie d'évêque à Hull. Avavt la tenue « clergy men » à Hull.quelques années après le Concile, j'ai porté la soutanee noire, format-jésuite et une croix de bois (l.un des règlements des membres de l.Église des Pauvres » ),

    Voilà un très petit aperçu de l'Église des pauvres. Le groupe est passé de 20membres à 75 membres. Et les réunions se tenaient dan s les Catacombes: ce que je n'ai pas connu. Nous étions évidemment les deux s.,euls Canadiens à faire partie du groupe: surtout Mgr Coderre beaucoup plus fidèle que moi,

    J.espère avoir répondu à votre demande.

    +Paul-É. Charbonneau

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful eyewitness testimony from Msgr. Charbonneau. I have translated his e-mail from the original French (with a few additions in brackets for clarification) below:

    From: Paul-Émile Charbonneau
    To: boisvert.dominique.@gmail.com
    Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 6:30 PM
    Subject: The Church of the Poor

    Hello Mr. Dominique,

    With Msgr. Coderre, I was part of the "Church of the Poor" group. This group was founded by Father [Paul] Gauthier, a priest from Nazareth. This priest distributed to the bishops, in St. Peter's Square, papers on poverty and especially on the Church of the Poor. One day, he invited all the conciliar fathers to a meeting at the Belgian College to talk about the poor.

    My good friend, Msgr. Coderre, invited me to accompany him to the the meeting at the Belgian College. We ended up being 20 out of 2,500 bishops.

    There were some great bishops there: Cardinal [Pierre-Marie] Gerlier of France, Msgr. [Helder] Camara from Brazil, Cardinal [Giacomo] Lercaro of Italy, Msgr. [Charles-Marie] Himmer of Belgium, Msgr. [Georges-Louis] Mercier from the Sahara, Msgr. [Alfred] Ancel from France, etc. Msgr. Coderre was faithful to all the meetings which were held every week. As for me, I had to leave the group to take care of organizing the meetings of the "Canadian bishop-theologians". But Msgr. Coderre kept me updated about the meetings regularly. Msgr. Lercaro is the one who took leadership of the group. The "Church of the Poor" group was a group that was a bit marginalized from the [Second Vatican] Council. Nonetheless, its influence was great in the development of documents. We asked the conciliar fathers to produce a special document on poverty. We were denied. However, we find in almost every document little parentheses about the Church of the Poor, for example, the famous first sentence in Gaudium et Spes: "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ..." That first sentence came from our group. I said earlier that we were marginalized, but [we were] very well-accepted by our bishop confreres.

    That experience of the Council marked me deeply in my life as bishop of Hull. Before the "clergy men" outfit at Hull, a couple of years after the Council, I wore a black cassock, Jesuit-style, and a wooden cross (one of the regulations of the members of the Church of the Poor).

    This is a very brief overview of the Church of the Poor. The group went from 20 members to 75 members. And the meetings were held in the Catacombs -- which I didn't know. We were obviously the only two Canadians who were part of the group -- especially Msgr. Coderre who was more faithful than me.

    I hope I've answered your question.

    +Paul-É. Charbonneau

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