1965: Pact of the Catacombs

The Catacombs’ Pact of the Poor and Servant Church

We, bishops gathered in the Second Vatican Council, made aware of the deficiencies of our lives of poverty according to the Gospel; encouraged by each other; in an initiative in which each one wishes to avoid singularity and presumption; united with all our brothers in the Episcopate; counting above all on the grace and strength of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the prayers of the faithful and the priests of our respective dioceses; placing ourselves in thought and prayer before the Trinity, before the Church of Christ and before the priests and faithful of our dioceses; humbly conscious of our weakness, but also with all the determination and strength which God wishes to give us as grace, commit ourselves to the following:

1) We will seek to live according to the ordinary manner of our people, regarding habitation, food, means of transport and all which springs from this. Cf. Mt 5,3; 6,33s; 8,20.

2) We definitively renounce the appearance and reality of riches, especially regarding to our manner of dress (rich material, loud colours) and symbols made of precious materials (they should in reality be evangelical signs). Cf. Mc 6,9; Mt 10,9s; At 3,6. Neither gold nor silver.

3) We will not possess real estate, goods, bank accounts etc. in our own names; if it should be necessary to have them, we will place everything in the name of the diocese, or of charitable and social works.. Cf. Mt 6,19-21; Lc 12,33s.

4) Whenever possible, we will entrust the financial and material administration in our dioceses to a commission of competent laity, conscious of their apostolic rôle, so that we may become less administrators and more pastors and apostles.. Cf. Mt 10,8; At. 6,1-7.

5) We refuse to be addressed, orally or in writing, by names or titles which signify prestige and power (Eminence, Excellency, Monsignor…). We prefer to be called by the evangelical title of Father. Cf. Mt 20,25-28; 23,6-11; Jn 13,12-15.

6) In our behaviour and social relations, we will avoid anything which may seem to confer priviledges, priority or any preference for the rich and powerful (such as: banquets, offered or accepted, class distinction during religious services Cf. Lc 13,12-14; 1Cor 9,14-19.)

7) In the same way we will avoid the fostering or pampering of the vanity of anyone, in order to seeking reward or solicit donations, or for any reason whatsoever. We will invite our faithful to consider their donations as a normal participation in the cult, the apostolate and social action. Cf. Mt 6,2-4; Lc 15,9-13; 2Cor 12,4.

8) We will dedicate whatever is necessary of or time, reflection, heart, means etc to the apostolic and pastoral service of people and groups of workers and of the economically weak and underdeveloped, without prejudice to the other people and groups in the diocese. We will support those laity, religious, deacons and priests who the Lord calls to evangelize the poor and the workers, sharing the work and life of labourers. Cf. Lc 4,18s; Mc 6,4; Mt 11,4s; At 18,3s; 20,33-35; 1Cor 4,12 e 9,1-27.

9) Conscious of the demands of justice and charity, and their mutual relationship, we will seek to transform assistential activites into social works based on justice and charity, which take into account all that this requires, as a humble service of the competent public organs. Cf. Mt 25,31-46; Lc 13,12-14 e 33s.

10) We will do our utmost so that those responsible for our government and for our public services make, and put into practice, laws, structures and social institutions required by justice and charity, equality and the harmonic and holistic development of all men and women, and by this means bring about the advent of another social order, worthy of the sons and daughters of mankind and of God. Cf. At. 2,44s; 4,32-35; 5,4; 2Cor 8 e 9 ; 1Tim 5, 16.

11) Believing the collegiality of the bishops to be of the utmost evangelical importance in facing the burden of human masses, in a state of physical, cultural and moral misery – two thirds of humanity – we commit ourselves:

– to participate, according to our means, in the urgent investments of the episcopates of poor nations;

– to demand that the plans of international organizations, but witnessing to the Gospel, as Pope Paul VI did in the UNO, adopt economic and cultural structures which no longer manufacture proletarian nations in an ever richer world, but which will permit the poor masses to overcome their misery.

12) We commit ourselves to share, in pastoral charity, our lives with our brothers and sisters in Christ, priests, religious and laity, so that our ministry constitute a true service; so, 

– We will really try to “review our lives” with them; 

– We will find collaborators who will be more animators according to the Spirit, rather then according to the chiefs of this world; 

– We will seek to be more humanly present, more welcoming…; 

– We will show ourselves to be open to all, whatever their religion. Cf. Mc 8,34s; At 6,1-7; 1Tim 3,8-10.

13) On returning to our respective dioceses, we will make this resolution known to our people, asking them to help us by their understanding, collaboration and prayers.

“MAY GOD HELP US TO BE FAITHFUL”.

SOURCES

http://www.konzilsvaeter.de/referenzen/englisch/index.html

http://iglesiadescalza.blogspot.fr/2010/03/dom-helder-camara-monsignor-romero-and.html

“The pact of the catacombs: a servant and poor Church”*

We, Bishops meeting at Vatican Council II, being aware of the deficiencies of our life of poverty according to the Gospel, encouraged by one another in this initiative in which each one wants to avoid singularity and presumption, in union with all our brothers in the Episcopate; counting, especially, on the grace and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the prayer of the faithful and priests of our respective diocese; putting ourselves in thought and prayer before the Trinity, before the Church of Christ and before the priests and faithful of our diocese, with humility and awareness of our weakness, but also with all the determination and all the strength that God wants to give us in His grace, commit ourselves to the following:

1. Regarding housing, food and means of transportation and everything concerning these things, we will seek to live in accordance with the ordinary manner of our people. See Mt 5:3, 6:33f, 8-20.

2. We renounce forever wealth and the appearance thereof, especially in clothing (expensive fabrics and brilliant colors), and insignia of precious metals (such signs should, in effect, be evangelizing). See Mk 6:9, Mt 10:9f, Acts 3:6. Neither gold nor silver.

3. We will not possess either movable or fixed assets, or bank accounts, etc., in our names; and if it is necessary to possess anything, we will place it under the name of our diocese or other social or charitable works. See Mt 6:19-21, Luke 12:33f.

4. Whenever possible we will entrust the financial and material administration of our diocese to a commission of competent lay people conscious of their apostolic role, given that we should be pastors and apostles rather than administrators. See Mt 10:8, Acts 6:1-7.

5. We refuse to be called in speech or writing by names or titles that signify grandeur and power (Your Eminence, Your Excellency, Monsignor …). We prefer to be called by the gospel name “Father”. See Mt 20:25-28, 23:6-11, Jn 13:12-15.

6. In our behavior and social relations, we will avoid everything that could appear to confer privilege, priority, or even preference to the rich and powerful (for example in banquets offered or accepted, in religious services). See Lk 13:12-14, 1 Cor 9:14-19.

7. We will also avoid fostering or flattering the vanity of anyone, whoever they might be, when rewarding or requesting donations, or for any other reason. We will invite our faithful to consider their gifts as normal participation in worship, ministry and social action. See Mt 6:2-4, Lk 15:9-13, 2 Cor 12:4.

8. We will give as much as is necessary of our time, thought, heart, means, etc. to the apostolic and pastoral service to working individuals and groups who are economically weak and underdeveloped, without compromising other people and groups in the diocese. We will support lay people, religious, deacons or priests, whom the Lord calls to evangelize to the poor and workers, sharing their life and work. See Lk 4:18f, Mk 6:4, Mt 11:4f, Acts 18:3f, 20:33-35, 1 Cor 4:12 and 9:1-27.

9. Aware of the demands of justice and charity and their mutual relationship, we will seek to transform the works of “beneficence” into social works based on charity and justice that take everyone into account, as a humble service of relevant public bodies. See Mt 25:31-46, Luke 13:12-14 and 33f.

10. We will endeavor to ensure that those responsible for our government and our public services decide on and implement the laws, structures and social institutions that are necessary for justice, equality and the full and harmonious development of the whole person and all people, and thus for the emergence of a new social order, worthy of the children of men and women and children of God. See Acts 2:44f, 4:32-35, 5:4, 2 Cor 8 and 9, 1 Tim 5:16.

11. Because the collegiality of the bishops finds its greatest evangelical fulfillment in communal service to the majority in physical, cultural and moral poverty — two thirds of humanity — we commit ourselves:

  • To share, according to our ability, in the urgent projects of the bishoprics in poor nations;
  • To ask together, at the international level, always giving witness to the gospel, as did Pope Paul VI at the United Nations, for the adoption of economic and cultural structures that do not create poor nations in an ever richer world, but that allow the poor majority to emerge from their poverty.

12. We pledge to share our life, in pastoral charity, with our brothers and sisters in Christ, priests, religious and laity, so that our ministry constitutes a real service. Thus,

  • We will strive to “revise our life” with them;
  • We will seek out partners so that we can be promoters according to the spirit rather than rulers according to the world;
  • We will try as much as is humanly possible to be present, to be welcoming;
  • We will be open to everyone, whatever their religion. See Mk 8:34f, Acts 6:1-7, 1 Tim 3:8-10.

13. When we return to our diocese we will present these resolutions to our diocesan priests, asking them to help us with their understanding, collaboration and prayers.

God help us to be faithful

The Church of Monsignor Romero

The pact, when read today, draws one’s attention to the fact that it basically addresses one single subject: poverty. But that being the hinge around which everything revolves — though not, for example, the administration of the sacraments, the pact of the catacombs produced important fruit in Medellin, and little by little, in other churches. Historically, it led to the fight for justice and liberation. Ecclesially, to the option for the poor. Theologically, to the God of the poor. All that came to El Salvador, and Archbishop Romero put it into use and blessed it, together with the new Salvadoran martyrs.

At Puebla, Monsignor met those bishops of the pact and of Medellin and returned very happy. “I remember one of the first nights of the Puebla meeting, when I met Monsignor Helder Camara and Monsignor Proaño and Cardinal Arns from Brazil. When they heard I was the archbishop of San Salvador they said to me: ‘You have much to tell us. Know that we know it and that those people are admirable, and may they remain faithful to the Gospel as they have been up to now’.” The admiration they felt for Monsignor, and that Monsignor felt for them, is obvious.

At present there are “pacts” too. Pedro Casaldaliga is their most eloquent spokesman. In his circular of 2009, he writes: “pact”.

Dom Helder Camara was one of the main promoters of the prophetic group. Today, we, at the current turbulent juncture, profess the validity of many social, political, ecclesiastical dreams, which we can not renounce in any way. We reject neoliberal capitalism, the neo-imperialism of money and weapons, a market and consumer economy which buries the vast majority of humanity in poverty and hunger. And we will continue to reject any discrimination based on gender, culture, race. We demand substantial transformation of the international agencies (UN, IMF, World Bank, WTO …). We pledge to live out a “deep and whole ecology”, promoting an alternative agrarian-agricultural policy over the predatory policy of the latifundio, monoculture, and agrochemicals. We will participate in social, political and economic transformations, for a “high intensity” democracy.

As a church, in the light of the Gospel, we want to live out the Kingdom, the obsessive passion of Jesus. We want to be the Church of the option for the poor, ecumenical and macroecumenical community as well. The God we believe in, the Abba of Jesus, can not be in any way a reason for fundamentalism, exclusion, absorbing inclusions, proselytizing pride. Enough now of making our God the one true God. “My God, does he let me see God?”. With all due respect for the views of Pope Benedict XVI, interreligious dialogue is not only possible, it is necessary. We will make ecclesial co-responsibility the legitimate expression of an adult faith.

Correcting centuries of discrimination, we will demand full equality for women in the life and ministry of the Church. We will encourage the freedom and recognized service of our theologians. The Church will be a network of communities praying, serving, prophetic, witnesses to the Good News: the Good News of life, freedom, happy communion. The Good News of mercy, acceptance, forgiveness, tenderness, a Samaritan at the edge of all the roads of humankind.

We will make Jesus’ warning live in church practice: “It shall not be so among you” (Mt 20:26). That is to say, servant authority. The Vatican will stop being a state and the Pope will no longer be head of state. The Curia will have to be profoundly reformed and local churches will cultivate the inculturation of the Gospel and shared ministerialism. The Church will commit itself, without fear, without evasions, to the great causes of justice and peace, to human rights and the recognized equality of all peoples. It will be prophecy of announcing, denouncing, and consolation.

* Translator’s Note: The original written text of this pact was in Portuguese and published in Kloppenburg, Boaventura (org.). Concílio Vaticano II. Vol. V, Quarta Sessão. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1966, 526-528. Kloppenburg gave it a working title of “O Pacto da Ingreja Serva e Pobre”. A copy can be found here.

http://www.icmica-miic.org/en/themes/council-vatican-ii/88-catacaomb-s-pact.html

http://www.missiologia.org.br/cms/UserFiles/cms_documentos_pdf_15.pdf

http://www.pro-konzil.de/?p=140&lang=en

The Catacombs’ Pact of the Poor and Servant Church

Oct 11th, 2012 | By admin | Category: option for the poor

The Catacombs’ Pact of the Poor and Servant Church”

We, bishops gathered in the Second Vatican Council, made aware of the deficiencies of our lives of poverty according to the Gospel; encouraged by each other; in an initiative in which each one wishes to avoid singularity and presumption; united with all our brothers in the Episcopate; counting above all on the grace and strength of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the prayers of the faithful and the priests of our respective dioceses; placing ourselves in thought and prayer before the Trinity, before the Church of Christ and before the priests and faithful of our dioceses; humbly conscious of our weakness, but also with all the determination and strength which God wishes to give us as grace, commit ourselves to the following:

1) We will seek to live according to the ordinary manner of our people, regarding habitation, food, means of transport and all which springs from this. Cf. Mt 5,3; 6,33s; 8,20.

2) We definitively renounce the appearance and reality of riches, especially regarding to our manner of dress (rich material, loud colours) and symbols made of precious materials (they should in reality be evangelical signs). Cf. Mc 6,9; Mt 10,9s; At 3,6. Neither gold nor silver.

3) We will not possess real estate, goods, bank accounts etc. in our own names; if it should be necessary to have them, we will place everything in the name of the diocese, or of charitable and social works.. Cf. Mt 6,19-21; Lc 12,33s.

4) Whenever possible, we will entrust the financial and material administration in our dioceses to a commission of competent laity, conscious of their apostolic rôle, so that we may become less administrators and more pastors and apostles.. Cf. Mt 10,8; At. 6,1-7.

5) We refuse to be addressed, orally or in writing, by names or titles which signify prestige and power (Eminence, Excellency, Monsignor…). We prefer to be called by the evangelical title of Father. Cf. Mt 20,25-28; 23,6-11; Jn 13,12-15.

6) In our behaviour and social relations, we will avoid anything which may seem to confer priviledges, priority or any preference for the rich and powerful (such as: banquets, offered or accepted, class distinction during religious services Cf. Lc 13,12-14; 1Cor 9,14-19.)

7) In the same way we will avoid the fostering or pampering of the vanity of anyone, in order to seeking reward or solicit donations, or for any reason whatsoever. We will invite our faithful to consider their donations as a normal participation in the cult, the apostolate and social action. Cf. Mt 6,2-4; Lc 15,9-13; 2Cor 12,4.

eight) We will dedicate whatever is necessary of or time, reflection, heart, means etc to the apostolic and pastoral service of people and groups of workers and of the economically weak and underdeveloped, without prejudice to the other people and groups in the diocese. We will support those laity, religious, deacons and priests who the Lord calls to evangelize the poor and the workers, sharing the work and life of labourers. Cf. Lc 4,18s; Mc 6,4; Mt 11,4s; At 18,3s; 20,33-35; 1Cor 4,12 e 9,1-27.

9) Conscious of the demands of justice and charity, and their mutual relationship, we will seek to transform assistential activites into social works based on justice and charity, which take into account all that this requires, as a humble service of the competent public organs. Cf. Mt 25,31-46; Lc 13,12-14 e 33s.

10) We will do our utmost so that those responsible for our government and for our public services make, and put into practice, laws, structures and social institutions required by justice and charity, equality and the harmonic and holistic development of all men and women, and by this means bring about the advent of another social order, worthy of the sons and daughters of mankind and of God. Cf. At. 2,44s; 4,32-35; 5,4; 2Cor 8 e 9 ; 1Tim 5, 16.

11) Believing the collegiality of the bishops to be of the utmost evangelical importance in facing the burden of human masses, in a state of physical, cultural and moral misery – two thirds of humanity – we commit ourselves:

– to participate, according to our means, in the urgent investments of the episcopates of poor nations;

– to demand that the plans of international organizations, but witnessing to the Gospel, as Pope Paul VI did in the UNO, adopt economic and cultural structures which no longer manufacture proletarian nations in an ever richer world, but which will permit the poor masses to overcome their misery.

12) We commit ourselves to share, in pastoral charity, our lives with our brothers and sisters in Christ, priests, religious and laity, so that our ministry constitute a true service; so,

– we will really try to “revise our lives” with them;

– We will find collaborators who will be more animators according to the Spirit, rather then according to the chiefs of this world;

-we will seek to be more humanly present, more welcoming…;

– We will show ourselves to be open to all, whatever their religion. Cf. Mc 8,34s; At 6,1-7; 1Tim 3,8-10.

13) On returning to our respective dioceses, we will make this resolution known to our people, asking them to help us by their understanding, collaboration and prayers.

“MAY GOD HELP US TO BE FAITHFUL”.

SOURCE

Pact of the Catacombs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Photo: Dennis Jarvis / Flickr / CC BY SA 2.0