"Let us not fear that truth will endanger truth." - Abbot Christopher Butler of Downside
Symposium at the Fortieth Anniversary of Vatican II
Less than a fortnight into the Council, Christopher Butler wrote the following words in a letter to a friend back in England: ‘Judging by the loquacity of Cardinals and archbishops, mere abbots are not going to have much of a look-in’.[i] He needn’t have worried. He gave three significant speeches at the Council during the Autumn of 1962 on Revelation, and then a remarkable fourth speech on the Church that was the very last speech of the Council’s first session. The Fathers dispersed with his words ringing in their ears, as it were: ‘the theology of the Church is in some way being reborn’, he said, and he reiterated the words of the Archbishop of Durban, speaking of a great ferment of ideas in theology that was beginning. He invited the Fathers to see this ferment as the work of the Holy Spirit, a sign of life and vitality in the Church: ‘we have the opportunity to show to the eyes of the whole world that are turned upon us a new vision of the unchanging Christ’.[ii]
After two more speeches in the next session and the support of over a hundred bishops for a remarkable text on the Blessed Virgin Mary that Butler had written with a view to its being included in the Council’s document on the Church, he had made such a favourable impact that he was elected in November 1963 to the vitally important Doctrinal Commission by the vote of over fourteen hundred of the Council Fathers.[iii] It was then, he tells us, that he began to make fuller contact with the outstanding theologians who were in Rome as ‘periti’ or advisers to the Fathers. He clearly delighted that the Doctrinal Commission itself could call on the services of Karl Rahner, Yves Congar, Henri de Lubac and numerous others.[iv] I shall explore in a moment the bond he had recently established with the writings of de Lubac in particular.
Around the time of his seventieth birthday, in 1972, Butler wrote A Time to Speak, [v] in order to give a coherent and rigorous account of his life and his life-choices. In this short paper, I shall draw most frequently on that book for Butler’s own reflections on the Church, on the Council, and first of all on his own coming to Catholicism, which I think is where we need to start.
In the Michaelmas term of 1926, Basil Edward Butler, as he then was, a brilliant young Oxford don, newly ordained as an Anglican deacon, was approached by his greatest friend who announced ‘that he was seriously concerned by the possibility that Roman Catholicism might be true’. Butler recalls that he and his friend ‘agreed to investigate the matter together’. Applying his searching mind to the problem, he swiftly came to the conclusion that, ‘if Christianity is true, then I must become a Roman Catholic’.[vi]
He duly became a Catholic in 1928, a year that is notable in Catholic theology and the history of ecumenism for the very stern encyclical letter, Mortalium Animos, of Pope Pius XI, in which the Pope forbade Catholics to get involved with the new ecumenical movement, [vii] which he judged to be marked by an unacceptable spirit of ‘indifferentism’. He condemned the ‘false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy’, in other words the idea that no one religion and no one Church stands out with unique claims. He further condemned the ‘false opinion’ that ‘the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ, has hardly up to the present time existed, and does not today exist’, being just an ‘ideal’ that may one day be attained.[viii] The Catholic Church understood things quite differently and considered itself to be that one true Church, showing forth that very unity. Interestingly, Butler says that the ‘two determining issues, closely interlocked’ in his decision to become a Catholic, were ‘unity and authority’.[ix]
The language of the encyclical is to modern ears rather intemperate, but its fundamental message is of immense significance if we would understand official Catholic teaching, not only at that time, but also today. Moreover, it is plain that the key to Butler’s move to Catholicism lies here. The gist, if I may put it this way, is that Catholicism is not a denomination.[x] Of course, it is a denomination in the most basic sense of simply designating a certain group of people, but in its essence it does not consider itself to be just one Christian path among many equivalent paths, one Church among many equals, and it certainly does not consider Christianity itself to be just one path to God among many equivalent paths in world religions.
A recent restatement of the same conviction came in the declaration Dominus Iesus from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2000. That declaration was itself considered by many to be less than felicitous in some of its phrasing, but there are more attractive expressions of the same idea. The profound and joyous reason why Catholicism cannot be stacked alongside other Christian denominations or other world religions is because of its intrinsic spirit of inclusiveness. I think that Butler saw Vatican II as itself the most tremendous expression of catholicity rediscovered and reasserted.
The Council opened, as we are celebrating, in 1962. In the same year, Butler produced his book, The Idea of the Church, [xi] and also wrote the Foreword to a new English edition of the classic work of Henri de Lubac from 1938, entitled simply Catholicism.[xii] Butler’s words on the eve of the Council show what a resonance there was in his heart with the contents of that remarkable book and they reveal to us how he, like de Lubac, understood Catholicism. He speaks of Catholicism as ‘whole Christianity’ (my italics) and foretells that ‘the alternative before the spirit of man will be Catholicism or sheer unbelief.’ [xiii] Ten years later, in A Time to Speak, he reiterated this: ‘I would... say that the ultimate choice is between Catholicism and absurdity’.[xiv] How can it possibly be so? Only through considering Catholicism as follows. These are de Lubac’s words:
[The Catholic Church is] neither Latin nor Greek, but universal... Nothing authentically human, whatever its origin, can be alien to her ... In her, man’s desires and God’s have their meeting-place, and by teaching all men their obligations she wishes at the same time to satisfy and more than satisfy the yearnings of each soul and of every age; to gather in everything for its salvation and sanctification ... To see in Catholicism one religion among others, one system among others, even if it be added that it is the only true religion, the only system that works, is to mistake its very nature, or at least to stop at the threshold. Catholicism is religion itself. It is the form that humanity must put on in order finally to be itself. It is the only reality which involves by its existence no opposition. It is therefore the very opposite of a ‘closed society’.[xv]
Fired by this intense vision, on the eve of the Council, Butler commented: ‘We have the tremendous task of thinking out the implications of the Catholic Gospel, and then of communicating it to the world’.[xvi] The sight of ‘some 2000 prelates of more than average age’ [xvii] gathering did not seem promising, he says. However, against his initial fears that the Council might be ‘a possible further step in the Church’s retreat from modern knowledge and the modern world’, already by the end of the first session in 1962, he began ‘to see that it might turn out to be what John XXIII had encouraged us to expect: a New Pentecost’; ‘the Holy Spirit was overruling us to ends which transcended those of all or indeed any of us’.[xviii]
Butler closed his Foreword with a significant rallying cry:
De Lubac’s thought has the originality which springs from the contact with a great tradition of a brilliant, deep and charitable mind. And it has a contemporaneity that bears witness to a profound, all-embracing, human concern... May it help many of us to see the way, by personal appropriation of the religion of charity, to contribute to the foundations of a better age to succeed our own.[xix]
Catholicism is something vibrant, traditional but freshly original when mediated by a charitable mind; it is ‘the religion of charity’ that the world needs in order to found a better age.
Pope John XXIII’s encyclical, Pacem in Terris, in 1963, showed his own desire to build a better world, and his own strategy was fundamentally one of charity: he loved the world and the world loved him. He particularly wanted his Council to further the cause of Church unity, and the means here too was to be by a massive renewal of charity. Just a week after calling the Council, he frankly admitted a fault of Catholics. It lies, he said,
‘in not having felt charity to the full; in not having always practised it toward our separated brethren, preferring the rigour of learned, logical, incontrovertible arguments, to forbearing and patient love, which has its own compelling power of persuasion’.[xx]Catholics have argued with their fellow Christians too much and loved them too little. John XXIII clearly wanted to restore the priority of love in the Christian life. Win people over with love, that was his message!
In a splendid phrase of 1972, Butler said that ‘dialogue steeped in love’ is ‘the newly preferred method of Catholic and Christian communication’, [xxi] and his gaze was clearly turned outwards from the Church to the world at large. ‘An ancient comment on the Christians of the first days was: See how these Christians love one another. What we need to provoke today is the comment: See how these Christians love mankind.’ [xxii]
Butler recognized de Lubac’s book as a big-hearted exposition of Catholicism. The big-hearted pope who called the Council brought de Lubac in from the ten-year exile he had suffered for his views in the pontificate of Pius XII, and in 1960 named him, along with Yves Congar, another exile, among the consultors to the Theological Commission preparing texts for the Council. In his own momentous book, Chrétiens Désunis, [xxiii] in 1937, Congar had endorsed Pius XI’s stance of 1928, [xxiv] but offered a striking case for the Catholic Church to enter into dialogue with other Christians, not in order to be more ecumenical, but in order to be more catholic.[xxv] It was surely in order to bolster his argument, by greatly enhancing the Catholic Church’s understanding of what catholicism itself really means, that Congar encouraged de Lubac to write his book on Catholicism and then actually published it in his new series, ‘Unam Sanctam’.
One of the many indications of Congar’s influence on Vatican II is the statement in the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (UR), that ‘the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realising the fullness of catholicity proper to her’ (UR 4), but Lumen Gentium (LG) itself acknowledged that catholicity was still not fully achieved when it stated that the ‘character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself whereby the Catholic ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit’ (LG 13).
It is the greatness of the Catholic Church to be pledged in its very name to this universal witness and charity. It is also, of course, the impossible burden of the Catholic Church to be so pledged, for how can she possibly live up to that calling? Two possible courses open up: one an awful complacency that would blind the Church to its inadequacy, and the other a radical and resolute acknowledgement of its intrinsic inadequacy. Vatican II chose the latter path by its remarkable and repeated teaching that the Church is itself a great sacrament ‘of communion with God and of unity among all people’ (LG 1). A sacrament has its reality and sufficiency not in itself but only in Christ. Butler recalls that, in Catholic theology, it is Christ himself who is ‘the real agent in the sacraments’; referring to the Church as a great sacrament is, in fact, expressing its total dependence upon him and indeed its true identity as his means of acting in the world.[xxvi] Its universal mission and charity are simply his, sacramentalized.
This idea, pioneered by de Lubac in Catholicism, was clearly decisive for Butler. He said that the Council had helped him to see that the notion of the sacramentality of the Church ‘is basic to our understanding of her’.[xxvii] On the eve of the Council, he quoted de Lubac’s pithy statement of it: ‘if Christ is the sacrament of God, the Church is for us the sacrament of Christ;... she really makes him present’; [xxviii] and in 1972 he teased it out with some very significant further nuances from the Council regarding Revelation.
God’s Word is... a sign and expression of God. This Word was expressed as and in the man Jesus of Nazareth, who is himself thus the sign or sacrament of God. And the Church exists to actualise the presence and role of Christ in every human context throughout the ages. It can thus be seen as a system of communication, and is itself the sacrament of Christ, just as Christ is the sacrament of God.[xxix]
Now, the Council’s teaching on the Church as sacrament is found in both of its Constitutions on the Church, Lumen Gentium (LG 1,9,48) and Gaudium et Spes (GS 45) and it binds these two texts intimately together; and Butler here makes a further link with ‘God’s Word’, which makes us think of the Constitution on Divine Revelation, which itself is called Dei Verbum (DV). We are now in a position, therefore, with Butler’s help, to see inter-relationships between these key texts, all of which he had a hand in drafting. These inter-relationships reveal to us some of the fundamental architecture of the Council.
The Louvain theologian, Charles Moeller, who himself played a very significant part in the Council, makes the striking statement that ‘Lumen Gentium is founded on Dei Verbum’.[xxx] Butler himself indicates the linkage. He says that
‘One of the most extraordinary insights of Vatican II is given in its description of the process of divine revelation, which makes it into a kind of dialogue interchange’. The Council says: ‘(Through the revelation which culminated in Christ the word made flesh) God out of the abundance of his love speaks to men [and women] as to his friends and holds living converse with them, so that he may invite and take them into fellowship with himself’ (DV2).[xxxi] So, revelation is a salvific dialogue and the one who comes to conduct that dialogue with the world is the Word made flesh, Christ our Lord. But how is that all-important dialogue with the world of today actually to be conducted? Surely through the sacrament of Christ, namely the Church. The Church, in Christ, is God’s means of dialogue with the world of today. So Dei Verbum does indeed provide the basic rationale for Lumen Gentium. ‘Sacrament of Christ’ is but another way of saying ‘Body of Christ’, and Butler comments:
‘The Church, the Body of Christ, has nothing less than Christ to communicate, Christ who is the self-communication in love of God to mankind.’ [xxxii]
It is plain that the Church does not exist for its own benefit.[xxxiii] It exists to serve the salvation of the world. It is worth noting that the very words Lumen Gentium that open and entitle the famous document on the Church mean ‘the light of the nations’ and refer to Christ himself; so the Church, which is immediately presented as a sacrament ‘in Christ’ (LG 1), is also immediately turned outwards to the world, as Christ was. Although it is Gaudium et Spes that bears the title of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, everything in Lumen Gentium is actually written in the same evangelizing spirit. Gaudium et Spes simply makes explicit what was implicit in Lumen Gentium and therefore helps us better to understand what Lumen Gentium is really about.[xxxiv] When he was still Archbishop of Cracow, Pope John Paul II himself said that Gaudium et Spes ‘completes’ Lumen Gentium,
‘because it reveals what the Church essentially is and displays the dynamism of the Church’s mystery with greater fullness’. ‘The redemptive work of Jesus Christ which determines the inmost nature of the Church is in fact the work of the redemption of the world.’ [xxxv]So we might well say that the Church is essentially outward-looking, as shown in Gaudium et Spes, and Lumen Gentium simply describes the inner reality of such a Church.
In a sense, therefore, we say the right things about the Church when we say the right things about the world, as loved by the Father, redeemed by Christ and impregnated with a desire for God that it is the Church’s calling to go out and fulfil. In A Time to Speak, Butler repeatedly recalls the famous saying of St Augustine: ‘Thou has[t] made us for thyself, and our heart is restless till it finds rest in thee’.[xxxvi] That was Augustine’s diagnosis of the state of every human heart, and the text appears at a decisive point in Gaudium et Spes (at the end of n.21), leading into the conciliar passage most quoted by Pope John Paul II:
‘it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear’; Christ the Lord ‘fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling’ (GS 22).[xxxvii]The Council directed us to heed Augustine and to understand that every human heart has a restlessness within that is fundamentally a desire for God. The Church exists in such a world, at the service of the Spirit who blows well beyond its visible boundaries, prompting that desire in all and also making an offer, as the Council taught:
Since Christ died for all, and since all are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery (GS 22).
How is the Church best understood in such a setting? As a great sign to the whole world of what is going on. A sign, or better still, a sacrament.
‘Every benefit the People of God can confer on mankind during its earthly pilgrimage is rooted in the Church’s being the “universal sacrament of salvation”, at once manifesting and actualising the mystery of God’s love for men and women’ (GS 45).Of course, the mystery of God’s love is personified in Christ. His universal love is, we might say, his catholicity. Being catholic means that the Church is called to be the sacrament of his catholicity, and what an overwhelming calling that is.
Butler strongly resonates with such an account. The divine offer makes itself felt in the conscience of each person and he deeply pondered the ‘basic option’ that each is called to make in response.
Every human being ... has to opt between what his conscience judges to be right and what his conscience condemns as wrong. If he makes the basic option for the right as he apprehends the right, he is in fact (though he might deny it) opting for God; he is placing no obstacle to grace. Grace, then, finding no obstacle, takes possession, and the man is ‘in Christ’ (and Christ ‘in him’) even if his conscience has told him to reject the Christian preaching. Every man of good will is in grace, and is mystically united in Christ with all other men of good will. All together, they constitute the body of Christ in its mystical element, as distinct from its visible institutional aspect.[xxxviii]
The visible aspect is to be understood, in fact, as the sacrament of the mystical element, and there is no contradiction between the visible Church being the sacrament of Christ himself and its being the sacrament of the mystical unity of all in Christ, because as he says in another context: the ‘Christ’ of whom we speak ‘is St Augustine’s “total Christ”, Christ that is to say in and with the Church’.[xxxix]
In A Time to Speak, Butler tells how he was steadily led to the Catholic Church by his own analysis of what he calls the ‘spiritual hunger for the metaphysically absolute’ [xl] that is in every human being. It was because he came to see the Catholic Church as best equipped to address that hunger in the world as it is that he came to regard it as true.[xli] He found the credentials of Catholicism compelling: it claimed to teach with authority [xlii] and was committed to the importance of full visible unity as was the early Church.[xliii] He was nevertheless firmly committed to a very healthy form of ecumenism, the kind that tries to combine the best of what two dialogue partners affirm into a synthesis ‘actually richer than either tradition taken separately’.[xliv] Butler saw ‘the gift of unity’ as ‘the supreme contribution of the Catholic Church to the ecumenical movement’.[xlv]
In his encyclical letter Mystici Corporis (1943), Pope Pius XII had exactly identified the mystical body of Christ with the visible Roman Catholic Church, thereby crudely excluding from the body of Christ not only the non-baptized, but also baptized non-Catholics, and doing nothing whatsoever for ecumenism. Butler salutes the famous qualification that Lumen Gentium gave to this teaching, when instead of saying that the Church we profess in the creed to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, is in this world the Catholic Church, it said that the Church we speak of in the creed subsists in the Catholic Church (LG 8). There was no longer an ‘exclusive material identification of the Church and the Roman Catholic communion’.[xlvi] On the contrary, Vatican II acknowledged that ‘many elements of sanctification and truth are found outside its visible confines’ (LG 8) and so paved the way for the Decree on Ecumenism. It is said that Butler neatly summarized the change of mentality thus:
‘Before the Council, I knew where the Church was and I knew where it wasn’t; now I still know where it is, but I no longer know where it isn’t.’ [xlvii]All the more so, we might say, since, as we have seen, he was now, in the light of the Council, identifying as members of the body of Christ all those who simply made a basic option for the right, as best they understood it.
Butler long foresaw what would emerge as the leading theme in Catholic ecclesiology at the Extraordinary Synod in 1985 [xlviii] and occupy the foreground in ecumenical ecclesiology today, namely the idea of the Church as communion.[xlix] When we speak of the Church, he said,
‘We do not mean simply the hierarchised visible institution, still less simply the hierarchy of that institution. We mean rather a “communion” of believers.’ ‘The Church as communion is most sharply brought into view in the Roman Catholic Church in which the divinely-given sacramental structure of the Church — including the apostolic-episcopal college — survives intact.’ But that same communion exists in any person of goodwill, Christian or not, by ‘the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ’ which ‘blows where it lists’.[l]
Butler explains that the hierarchy is at the service of the whole People of God and the whole Church is at the service of the world, and he delighted that Dei Verbum presented revelation
‘as having been entrusted to the Church as a whole, not merely to the bishops’.[li]The placing of the chapter on the People of God as chapter two before chapter three on the hierarchy in Lumen Gentium, he says,
‘enabled us to see the Church as the great fraternity of all the baptised, and to understand the role of the hierarchy within this great whole as essentially one of service’.He gives a salutary reminder: ‘The Church’s life does not flow down from Pope through bishops and clergy to a passive laity’; rather, prompted by ‘the life-giving Spirit of God’, ‘it springs up from the grassroots of the People of God’, and the function of pope and bishops is primarily one of ‘co-ordination’ and ‘authentication’.[lii] Moreover, as a member of the Doctrinal Commission, Butler gives a masterly and subtle explanation of Vatican II’s teaching on the integration of primacy and collegiality. Reinforcing its sacramental understanding of the Church itself, Vatican II teaches that all authority in the Church is sacramental, by teaching (in LG 21) that the tasks of teaching and ruling are conferred upon bishops not by the pope but by their episcopal consecration, which is the fullness of the sacrament of Order.[liii] The pope himself belongs to the college of bishops, and his supreme and full authority over the Church, that Vatican I defined, is in fact, Butler would say, the concentration in his person of the supreme and full authority over the Church that Vatican II taught also belongs to the college of bishops which the pope heads (LG 22).[liv] ‘The council has not denied the place of law and jurisdiction in the Church’, he says, ‘[b]ut it has given the primacy to charity and sacrament’.[lv]
The pope belongs within the communion of the college of bishops and the bishops belong within the communion of the Church, and the Church has its communion life particularly from the celebration of the Eucharist, at which the bishops most properly preside.[lvi] And finally, Mary, too, of course, belongs within the great communion, which is why Butler was one of the prime advocates of including the Blessed Virgin within the scope of Lumen Gentium, rather than in a separate text, as many wanted.
Precisely because he loved the Church so much and wanted it to be at its best, Butler was also critical, and we ought to do a quick inventory of some of his concerns. Prior to Vatican II, he says that he thought that ‘the Church had become far too centralised, and that Roman authoritarianism must tend to drain the lifeblood from the Church at large’.[lvii] After the Council, he reflected that what the world is seeking and what the Church must show the way towards is: ‘the greatest diversity within a worldwide unity and union’.[lviii] Papal primacy must not be unduly extended, especially in ecumenical discussion, ‘beyond the very carefully drawn limits of the teaching of Vatican I’, and a ‘genuine and practical’ collegiality must be pursued.[lix] We must ‘revalue the local Church and decentralise the power structures in the universal Church to an extent which few of us have so far been able to envisage’. ‘And in all this, the determining factor should be not primarily the supposed interests of the Church as an institution, but the needs of mankind, to whom we are sent.’ Christ came as the suffering Servant, he says, and the Council taught that the Church likewise must show herself ‘in self-sacrificing service of mankind and in the sharing of every human concern and need’. This idea of ‘the servant Church’, he said sadly in 1972, is ‘hardly yet beginning to be put into effect’.[lx] The pontificate of John Paul II would probably have cheered him on this count, if not perhaps so much on the earlier one. And lastly, as a bishop-theologian, he had a warning for theologians, too. ‘I personally fear’, he said, ‘that there is a lot of flabby and superficial verbiage going around today under the name of theology’. What he wanted was what he called ‘hard-currency theology’.[lxi]
So what are the hard-headed priorities he leaves us with? The Council, he says, gave him the immense gift of unifying his theological understanding. Catholic theology had treated lots of different things in lots of different compartments, but the Council ‘laid the foundation of a new synthesis’.[lxii] I have been trying, with Butler’s guidance, to indicate some of the central lines of that synthesis. In Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, the Council focussed rigorously and lovingly on the person of Christ, and in that way was surely deeply ecumenical, for what fundamentally unites Christians is faith in, love of and dedication to, Jesus the Lord. Butler’s urgent message is that the world needs that Lord: ‘mission cannot wait’.[lxiii] It is the Church’s calling to be the sacramental presence of that Lord and of his catholicity in the world.
'My second personal debt to the Council’, he says frankly, ‘is the recovery of hope’, [lxiv] and '[t]here will be hope for mankind, and hope for the success of the Church’s Mission, when it becomes visible to the public eye that the Church is effectively bringing into the currents of history the Christ who healed the paralytic, gave hearing to the deaf, fed the hungry and gave sight to the blind’.[lxv]
[i] B.C. Butler, A Time To Speak (Southend-on-Sea: Mayhew-McCrimmon, 1972) [hereafter referred to as ‘ATTS’], p.143.
[ii] Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II [hereafter ‘AS’] (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1970-78), I/4 (1971), pp.389-90.
[iii] AS II/1(1971), p.90; II/6(1973), p.306; cf. III/1(1973), p.17. The votes for the four who were elected were: Ancel (1491), Butler (1448), Heuschen (1160), Henriquez Jimenez (831).
[iv] ATTS, p.144.
[v] See above, note1.
[vi] ATTS, pp.13-14.
[vii] The first world conference on Faith and Order had taken place just the previous year, in 1927, at Lausanne, and the first world conference on Life and Work two years earlier, in 1925, in Stockholm.
[viii] The text may be found at http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_pi11ma.htm
[viii] ATTS, p.14, cf. p.194.
[x] Cf. Butler, In the Light of the Council (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1969), p.83.
[xi] Written ‘to show that the only intellectually justifiable position for a Christian was, to be a Catholic. I stand by the main conclusions of that book.’ (ATTS, p.141.)
[xii] Henri de Lubac, Catholicism (London: Burns & Oates, Universe Books edition, 1962), with a Foreword by the Abbot of Downside. This translation was originally published in 1950 by Burns, Oates & Washbourne, and was more recently reprinted, with full footnotes from the French original, by Ignatius Press, San Francisco, in 1988.
[xiii] Ibid., p. v.
[xiv] ATTS, p.199.
[xv] Catholicism, pp.156-7.
[xvi] Ibid., pp. v-vi.
[xvii] Butler, Letter at the start of Alberic Stacpoole (ed.), Vatican II by those who were there (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1986), p. ix. Cf. ATTS, p.141.
[xviii] ATTS, p.144.
[xix] Catholicism, p. vii.
[xx] Quoted by Bernard Leeming in The Vatican Council and Christian Unity (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), p.258.
[xxi] ATTS, p.165.
[xxii] ATTS, p.195.
[xxiii] Yves Congar, Chrétiens Désunis (Paris: Cerf, 1937); translated as Divided Christendom (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1939).
[xxiv] Cf. Divided Christendom, pp.133, 190-91.
[xxv] Ibid., pp. 191, 253-4, 271-2.
[xxvi] Butler, The Theology of Vatican II (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, revised ed. 1981), p.59; cf. p.78, n.19.
[xxvii] ATTS, p.147.
[xxviii] Butler, The Idea of the Church (1962), p.3; quotation from Catholicism (1950), p.29. Cf. Paul McPartlan, Sacrament of Salvation. An Introduction to Eucharistic Ecclesiology (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), p.41.
[xxix] ATTS, p.147.
[xxx] Charles Moeller, ‘History of the Constitution [Gaudium et Spes]’, in Herbert Vorgrimler (ed.), Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol.5 (London: Burns & Oates, 1969), p.70.
[xxxi] ATTS, p.164.
[xxxii] ATTS, p.165.
[xxxiii] Cf. ATTS, p.167.
[xxxiv] Cf. Moeller, op. cit., p.12.
[xxxiv] Karol Wojtyla, Sources of Renewal (London: Collins, 1980), p.69.
[xxxvi] ATTS, p.168, cf. pp.8, 42, 63, 201.
[xxxvii] Cf. Paul McPartlan, ‘The Legacy of Vatican II in the Pontificate of John Paul II’, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Jubilee Volume, ‘The Wojtyla Years’ (Gale Group/Catholic University of America, 2001), p.64.
[xxxviii] Butler, In the Light of the Council, p.20. The ideas that Butler develops, with appreciative reference to de Lubac, in The Idea of the Church, p.157, are clearly related to his point here and to the teaching of GS 22, above.
[xxxix] Ibid., p.74.
[xl] ATTS, p.8.
[xli] ATTS, pp.15,155,191.
[xlii] ATTS, pp.15,21-2,159,194.
[xliii] ATTS, pp.14-15.
[xliv] ATTS, p.158.
[xlv] Butler, The Church and Unity (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1979), p.8.
[xlvi] Butler, The Theology of Vatican II, p.61, cf. p.54.
[xlvii] Cf. ibid., p.119; also McPartlan, Sacrament of Salvation, pp.66-7.
[xlviii] ‘The ecclesiology of communion is the central and fundamental idea of the Council’s documents’ (Final ‘Relatio’ of the Synod, II, C, 1).
[xlix] Cf., e.g., Robert W. Jenson, ‘The church and the sacraments’, in Colin E. Gunton, The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine (Cambridge, 1997), p.208.
[l] ATTS, p.171.
[li] ATTS, p.145, cf. DV 10. See also The Theology of Vatican II, p.65, with reference to LG 12.
[lii] Butler, The Theology of Vatican II, pp.66-7.
[liii] Ibid., pp.62, 87, 91; cf. ATTS, p.148.
[liv] Cf. ibid., pp.92, 95-7, 99, 101 n.25.
[lv] Ibid., p.101.
[lvi] Cf. Butler, Searchings (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1974), pp.246-7.
[lvii] ATTS, p.139.
[lviii] ATTS, p.155.
[lix] ATTS, p.159.
[lx] ATTS, p.165.
[lxi] ATTS, p.13.
[lxii] ATTS, p.148.
[lxiii] ATTS, p.155.
[lxiv] ATTS, p.149.
[lxv] ATTS, p.195.
My Note: The vision of de Lubac and of Christopher Butler is found in the universal love of Christ which is Christ's "Catholicity" and also the "Catholicity of the Catholic Church. It is a paradox that this universal love is given its classical expression in the words of a schismatic Nestorian saint whose words are universally acknowledged and whose Christian life is universally admired and is acknowledged as a saint by all Catholics and Orthodox who know him. He is proof that our divisions do not reach up to heaven, that, thanks to the grace of the Good Shepherd who seeks out the lost sheep, we remain united in Christ, even when there are still insuperable obstacles to our immediate reunion on earth. He is living proof - because the saints are very much alive - that Vatican II was right in this "universalist" vision, in spite of what the revisionists are now saying. This is what Saint Isaac the Syrian wrote:
Words from St. Isaac of Syria
St. Isaac stretches love and mercy to it’s farthest limits, occasionally beyond the bounds of canonical understanding. He remains a saint of the Church and his words are very important to hear:
Let yourself be persecuted, but do not persecute others.
Be crucified, but do not crucify others.
Se slandered, but do not slander others.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep: such is the sign of purity.
Suffer with the sick.
Be afflicted with sinners.
Exult with those who repent.
Be the friend of all, but in your spirit remain alone.
Be a partaker of the sufferings of all, but keep your body distant from all.
Rebuke no one, revile no one, not even those who live very wickedly.
Spread your cloak over those who fall into sin, each and every one, and shield them.
And if you cannot take the fault on yourself and accept punishment in their place, do not destroy their character.
What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation. For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God.
The person who is genuinely charitable not only gives charity out of his own possessions, but gladly tolerates injustice from others and forgives them. Whoever lays down his soul for his brother acts generously, rather than the person who demonstrates his generosity by his gifts.
God is not One who requites evil, but who sets evil right.
Paradise is the love of God, wherein is the enjoyment of all blessedness.
The person who lives in love reaps the fruit of life from God, and while yet in this world, even now breathes the air of the resurrection.
In love did God bring the world into existence; in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the One who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.
Question: When is a person sure of having arrived at purity?
Answer: When that person considers all human beings are good, and no created thing appears impure or defiled. Then a person is truly pure in heart.
Love is sweeter than life.
Sweeter still, sweeter than honey and the honeycomb is the awareness of God whence love is born.
Love is not loath to accept the hardest of deaths for those it loves.
Love is the child of knowledge.
Lord, fill my heart with eternal life.
As for me I say that those who are tormented in hell are tormented by the invasion of love. What is there more bitter and violent than the pains of love? Those who feel they have sinned against love bear in themselves a damnation much heavier than the most dreaded punishments. The suffering with which sinning against love afflicts the heart is more keenly felt than any other torment. It is absurd to assume that the sinners in hell are deprived of God’s love. Love is offered impartially. But by its very power it acts in two ways. It torments sinners, as happens here on earth when we are tormented by the presence of a friend to whom we have been unfaithful. And it gives joy to those who have been faithful.
That is what the torment of hell is in my opinion: remorse. But love inebriates the souls of the sons and daughters of heaven by its delectability.
If zeal had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did God the Word clothe himself in the body, using gentleness and humility in order to bring the world back to his Father?
Sin is the fruit of free will. There was a time when sin did not exist, and there will be a time when it will not exist.
God’s recompense to sinners is that, instead of a just recompense, God rewards them with resurrection.
O wonder! The Creator clothed in a human being enters the house of tax collectors and prostitutes. Thus the entire universe, through the beauty of the sight of him, was drawn by his love to the single confession of God, the Lord of all.
“Will God, if I ask, forgive me these things by which I am pained and by whose memory I am tormented, things by which, though I abhor them, I go on backsliding? Yet after they have taken place the pain they give me is even greater than that of a scorpion’s sting. Though I abhor them, I am still in the middle of them, and when I repent of them with suffering I wretchedly return to them again.”
This is how many God-fearing people think, people who foster virtue and are pricked with the suffering of compunction, who mourn over their sin; They live between sin and repentance all the time. Let us not be in doubt, O fellow humanity, concerning the hope of our salvation, seeing that the One who bore sufferings for our sakes is very concerned about our salvation; God’s mercifulness is far more extensive than we can conceive, God’s grace is greater than what we ask for.
When we find love, we partake of heavenly bread and are made strong without labor and toil. The heavenly bread is Christ, who came down from heaven and gave life to the world. This is the nourishment of angels. The person who has found love eats and drinks Christ every day and every hour and is thereby made immortal. …When we hear Jesus say, “Ye shall eat and drink at the table of my kingdom,” what do we suppose we shall eat, if not love? Love, rather than food and drink, is sufficient to nourish a person. This is the wine “which maketh glad the heart.” Blessed is the one who partakes of this wine! Licentious people have drunk this wine and become chaste; sinners have drunk it and have forgotten the pathways of stumbling; drunkards have drunk this wine and become fasters; the rich have drunk it and desired poverty, the poor have drunk it and been enriched with hope; the sick have drunk it and become strong; the unlearned have taken it and become wise.
Repentance is given us as grace after grace, for repentance is a second regeneration by God. That of which we have received an earnest by baptism, we receive as a gift by means of repentance. Repentance is the door of mercy, opened to those who seek it. By this door we enter into the mercy of God, and apart from this entrance we shall not find mercy.
Blessed is God who uses corporeal objects continually to draw us close in a symbolic way to a knowledge of God’s invisible nature. O name of Jesus, key to all gifts, open up for me the great door to your treasure-house, that I may enter and praise you with the praise that comes from the heart.
O my Hope, pour into my heart the inebriation that consists in the hope of you. O Jesus Christ, the resurrection and light of all worlds, place upon my soul’s head the crown of knowledge of you; open before me all of a sudden the door of mercies, cause the rays of your grace to shine out in my heart.
O Christ, who are covered with light as though with a garment, who for my sake stood naked in front of Pilate, clothe me with that might which you caused to overshadow the saints, whereby they conquered this world of struggle. May your Divinity, Lord, take pleasure in me, and lead me above the world to be with you.
I give praise to your holy Nature, Lord, for you have made my nature a sanctuary for your hiddenness and a tabernacle for your holy mysteries, a place where you can dwell, and a holy temple for your Divinity.