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Indiana’s Own: (Elmer) Joseph Cardinal Ritter

There is an excellent article on the America Magazine website about the “First Turning Point of Vatican II”. The article written by Fr.Robert J. Nogosek, C.S.C. who now lives at Notre Dame. What does this have to do with the history of the Catholic Church in Indiana? As it happens, one of the turning points in the history of the Council came when Joseph Cardinal Ritter, New Albany native, first Archbishop of Indianapolis, objected to the role that many of the Vatican hierarchy insisted was the role of the Council. A schema, intended to condemn some practices, was put forth, but with the support of people like Cardinal Ritter, it was defeated and the work of the Council was able to continue.

Here is part of the arcticle. You can read the entire article by going to America’s Website.

For the most part, the large American hierarchy had arrived out of duty and with no agenda of their own. Our bishops were used to conforming to the instructions of the Vatican offices, but after receiving the texts for their voting, most recognized the need to go back to school by having leading scholars provide conferences on the issues for which they were suddenly responsible. Soon they began noticing curial maneuvers and subtle violation of the council’s rules, along with what seemed a tactic of deception on the part of leaders of the Roman Curia and some of the Italian hierarchy.
… A growing number of prelates were saying the text was not appropriate for the council Pope John had intended because it was not”pastoral.” In reply, Ottaviani and his followers insisted that correct doctrine was the basis for its pastoral application by the bishops and their priests back home after the council was over. The business of an ecumenical council, he said, was to clarify church teaching by condemning false doctrine as heresy. Other speakers, however, insisted the pope did not want the council to issue any condemnations at all, but rather to present already-defined doctrine in a way to renew the spiritual life of the church and attract modern people to the love of God as revealed by Jesus Christ. As Pope John said in his opening address to the council, doctrine is one thing and the way it is presented is another. From our perspective of 50 years later, we may see this debate still going on, and those opposed to the council sometimes using it as an argument that Vatican II was not a valid ecumenical council because it did not do what councils do, namely, condemn false teaching, especially in the church itself.
…Then a surprising Midwestern voice spoke up from the American hierarchy: Cardinal Joseph Ritter of St. Louis, who bluntly declared that the schema must be rejected.1

  1. America Magazine – A Change of Season, The First Turning point of Vatican II, by Robert C. Nogosek CSC [http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13593] []
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