St. Peters

Vatican II:
Celebrating 50 years

November 8 - November 14

On November 14th, the schema for the first document was brought to a vote. By an overwhelming majority the Council approved the Constitution on the Liturgy, Sancrosanctum Concilium: 2162 in favor, 46 opposed, with 7 void ballots. The vote meant that the document was fundamentally sound, and with revisions made could proceed for final approval. The landslide vote was met with astonishment. The final version of the document would be approved the following year by an even greater landslide.

One the very same day, however, the divisions present at the Council became obvious to all gathered. After the presentation of the first doctrinal schema, fifteen Fathers intervened. Three defended the schema and nine attacked it as “unacceptable,” saying it must be “completely revised” and even “rejected.” It was clear the schema would not easily pass. In fact, a vigorous debate continued for almost a week and culminated in a 1368 to 822 vote to interrupt discussion of it. This was a vast majority, but 105 shy of required two-thirds margin.

A November 21st intervention by Pope John resolved the crisis by withdrawing the schema and sending it to a newly created “mixed commission”, jointly chaired by Cardinal Ottaviani of the Holy Office and Cardinal Bea of the Secretariat for Christian Unity. This joint commission was to draft a entirely new document which was to be “short, irenic in tone, and pastoral in approach.” (Xavier Rynne, Letters from Rome) Save brevity, such a tone would permeate the Council.


Vatican II