Opening the third and perhaps decisive session of the Vatican Ecumenical Council, the pontiff made a point of speaking directly to non-Catholic observers present.
"We wish to assure you once more of our purpose and hope to be able to one day to remove every obstacle, every misunderstanding, every hesitancy that still prevents us from feeling fully 'of one heart and one soul' in Christ, in His church (Acts. 4,32)," the Pope said.
- AP Wirephoto
Paul VI Drinks Wine As He Takes Communion
The Pope's address set the tone for the meeting of 2,500 Catholic prelates from around the world.
Christian unity and the sharing of the church government with the bishops appeared interlocking. Non-Catholic Christians balk at the supreme authority placed in the Pope.
The upshot of the deliberations of the prelates may be some kind of group to advise the Pope. Speaking to his bishops, the Pope said:
"THE HOUR HAS sounded in history when the church... must say of herself what Christ intended and willed her to be, and what the age-long meditation of the fathers, pontiffs and doctors in their wisdom has explored with piety. The church must give a definition of herself and bring out from her true conciousness the doctrine which the Holy Spirit teaches her."
He called the sharing of papal-episcopal authority "the weightiest and most delicate" of the problems facing the council.
The Pope made it plain that shared authority would not lessen papal primacy.
He said centralization of authority in the Vatican is a necessity for unity of the church but he added that centralization "will surely be always tempered and balanced by an alert and timely delegation both of authority and facilities for local pastors."
HE SAID popes as possessors of full power over the church have the duty of heading the episcopate.
"Nevertheless," he added, "our position in no way defrauds you, our brother bishops, of your due authority. On the contrary, we are among the first to respect that sacred authority."
The council session in St. Peter's Basilica got under way with a Mass of Concelebration - a rarity that symbolized shared authority.
The Pope participated in this ceremony with 24 bishops, all of whom prayed together at the consecration of the host - the heart of the Mass - and partook of the same consecrated wafer and wine.
THE MEETING opened under a hot glare of television arc lights and in the heat James Francis Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles collapsed.
He was taken by ambulance to a Rome hospital where doctors said the 78-year-old American cardinal showed no heart difficulty and needed a few days of rest and medical testing. Cardinal McIntyre flew to Rome Sunday night. The doctors said too little sleep and too much heat felled him.
The Rev. Oscar Cullman, Protestant theologian of Paris and Basle, also fainted and was treated at the Basilica first aid station. He resumed his place later among more than 60 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox observers invited to witness the council.
- September 15, 1964