“Have Expectations Been Fulfilled?”

The following are excerpts from a lecture given in Rome on December 2, 1965 by Oscar Cullman, then a (Protestant) professor of New Testament in Basel and Paris. The text comes from a book The Council and the Future, by Mario von Galli, S.J. published 1966. It has the Imprimatur thusly: Turici 15 Aprilis 1966; F. X. Walker Praet. Vic. Prov. Helv. Soc. Jesu.

Have our expectations been fulfilled? The question, put this way, is perhaps premature. For this Council, to a much greater degree than earlier councils, can only be judged in terms of its effects….

[paragraph omitted]

I would especially like to emphasize the fact that the renewal of the Christian Church has to mean more than mere adjustment to the modern world; consequently, aggiornamento can never be the sole motive for renewal. this was also John XXIII’s position, when he spoke of the difference between unchangeable substance and formulation. Yet neither Pope John XXIII nor the Council have dealt with this problem…..I do not overlook the fact that many Protestant theologians, too, in their effort to make the biblical message acceptable to the present world, give this problem no attention at all….

[two paragraphs omitted]

…We Protestants … expected that these reformulations {of both substance and formulation} would proceed from a certain rearrangement of values within the unchangeable substance….It may be that certain elements belonging essentially to the core were at length wrongly removed to the periphery and peripheral elements shifted to the center. A renewal can aim at a rearrangement which refocuses on the original situation without surrendering any element of substance.

Pay attention, now! Anyone who is still laboring under the misconception that the Novus Ordo Missae is not a Protestantized version of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass better note this next part:

The liturgy schema, which filled us with joy from the very beginning, not only makes suggestions for liturgical reform which are entirely in line with our own suggestions (emphasis mine), but it is inspired throughout by the Bible. This is clear not only from the language used, but in the fundamental treatment of Christian worship of God. Here my expectations were not only fulfilled, they were entirely surpassed….

The schema on the Church not only uses a new vocabulary but also, where it speaks of the People of God, speaks in language which brings the Catholic concept of the Church very close to our Protestant concept….Everywhere we find ourselves on common ground, despite the fact that some very profound differences do remain. Many sections of these texts we can accept without any alteration.

Other duties require my attention, but I shall continue in the next post. Stay tuned….

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