THE Second Vatican Council will definitely open in 1962. This was proclaimed on Christmas Day from the steps of the four Roman basilicas in a Bull issued by Pope John XXIII. The exact date will be set later "according to the opportunity with which Divine Providence favours us".
Expectations that non-Catholic bodies will send observers to sonic of the sessions were heightened by a passage in the Bull which stated that other Christian Churches "hope to send representaives of their communities to follow at close hand the work of the Council."
In another passage the Holy Father invites Catholics and "all Christians of the Churches separated from Rome" to pray for the success of the Council. "We know that many of these sons are anxious for a return of unity and peace according to the teaching and the prayer of Christ to His father".
It was Cardinal Copal!) who presented the Bull to the Holy Father for signature in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Palate. Here are some of the main points of the text: 1. At a time when generous and growing efforts are being made in various quarters towards Christian Unity, the Council will generate doctrinal clarity and mutual charity to strengthen the desire of the Christian churches segregated from Rome for a return to Unity, and to smooth the way towards it.
2. The Church today is witnessing a crisis in action within society. Humanity is at the turning point of a new era. Tasks of immense gravity and extent have to be faced.
3. The problem is to put the modern world in contact with the vivifying and perennial energies of the Gospel. The world prides itself on its scientific and technical conquests, but certain people intend to reorganise the temporal order without God. There is great material progress but no equal advance in the moral field. Spiritual values are weakened. Militant atheism is at work on au international plane.
4. The spectacle is one of a world in a serious state of spiritual indifference and the Church still vibrant with vitality. The Council has been summoned so that the Church might contribute to the solution of the problems of the modern era.
THE POPE STAYS IN
DURING a Midnight Christmas Mass for the Diplomatic Corps in the Clementine Hall Pope John warned the world's rulers that "history's judgement will be severe for those who have failed to do all in their power to remove humanity from the shadow of war".
But the world cannot have peace at any price. he said. The Church insists on the justice which "recognises the legitimate rights of others and respects the peace resulting from faithful negotiations." On Christmas morning the Pope said Mass in St. Peter's and, because of the cold driving rain, broadcast his blessing from inside. He later came to the window of his apartment to call out Happy Christmas to a crowd of ten thousand people.