Preamble: The topic I have been asked to dissect is part of the Okigwe diocesan response and contribution to the year of faith declared by the Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. It is an indication; inter alia, that as a local church, the diocese is in touch and in communication with the universal church. Listening attentively to the supreme pontiff and implementing whatever instruction that issues from him.
1.1 The Year of Faith: The year he of faith is a special year set aside by Pope Benedict XVI for Catholics all over the world to rediscover and share with others the precious gift of faith entrusted to the church and the personal gift of faith that all have received at baptism from the Triune God. According to Benedict XVI, this unique year will be observed between the 11th of October 2012 and 24th of November 2013.
1.2 The Raison d`etre for the choice of date: the choice of 11th October to usher in the year of faith is not accidental. The date marks the anniversary of two great events in the life of the church namely the golden jubilee of the opening of the second Vatican council (11 October 1962 to 8 December 1965) and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church by blessed John Paul 11.
This special year of renewal and reinvigoration of the faith will end on the 24th of November 2013which is solemnity of Christ the King.
1.3 What is Special about the Anniversary of Vatican II Council: The Pope explains that though the council occurred half a century ago, it remains “the great grace bestowed on the church in the twentieth century”, that is “a sure compass by which to take our bearing in the century now beginning”. The pontiff emeritus maintains that the second Vatican council, if interpreted and implemented according to the mind of the church stretching back to the apostles” can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the church. (Porta Fidei n.5)
This is why an important component of the year of faith will be reflection and rediscovery of the riches contained in the text of the second Vatican Council.
1.3.1 The place of the Anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the Year of Faith?
The catechism of the Catholic Church is a systematic and succinct presentation of the catholic faith the enable the faithful to know the full symphony of faith. In the catechism “we see wealth of teaching that the church has received, safeguard and proposed in her two thousand years history. From sacred scripture to fathers of the church, from theological masters to the saints across the centuries, the catechism provides a permanent record of the many ways in which the church has meditated on the faith and made progress in doctrine so as to offer certitude to believer in their lives of faith”. (Porta Fedie no 11). Pope John Paul 11 described the catechism of the church as a “sure norm for teaching the faith”. It was his hope that it would “serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the church of God, the body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the kingdom.”
For Pope Benedict XVI, the Catechism is precious and indispensible tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the second Vatican council” (Porta Fidei no 11)
This explain why an essential dimension of the year of the faith involves a “concerted effort by every catholic to rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith that receives it systematic and organic synthesis in the catechism of the catholic church.”
1.4 The Objectives for declaring the year of faith:
By declaring the year faith, the Holy Father Emeritus aims at summoning all to rediscover the journey of faith and renew their enthusiasm to encounter Christ in the word and in the sacrament especially the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He wants us “to rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples. (Jn 6:5). The faithful are expected to intensify their reflection on faith, so that they can acquire more conscious and vigorous adherence to the gospel, especially at a time profound change such as is facing humanity at the moment. It is a year that demands a profession of faith in the Risen Lord in all facets of life. This faith is to be interiorized and transmitted to future generations. he door of faith is opened at ones baptism, but during this year Catholics are invited to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his church. In addition, this faith is to be celebrated in the Liturgy especially in the Eucharist. (cf Porta Fidei 13).
2.1 The Background to the Second Vatican
The second Vatican council was the 21st ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church which opened on the 11th of October, 1962. The story began with the spirit guiding the church to elect a 77 – year old cardinal of Venice, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, as Pope to succeed Pope Pius XII, who had been Pope for almost twenty years. Pius XII was elected in 1939 and died on October 9, 1958. Much had happened during those tumultuous years: the Second World War, the holocaust, the pain and loss of so many lives, the rebuilding of Europe and Japan. After the death of Pius XII, the cardinals decided to choose as compromise candidate who would be (a papa di passagio), a transitional” caretaker Pope with short period of reign. On October 28th, 1958, they elected a pious old man whom some thought to be harmless, even simple to head the church. As pope, Angelo chose the name John XXIII, giving a number of reasons for his choice. But anyone who knew church history would certainly have looked upon the choice of the john as odd, if not downright blasphemous. There had not been a Pope named John in over five hundred years. The last Pope named John XXII was considered false Pope and was disposed in 1415 by council of Constance, which he had been forced to call to reform the church. Surely, Angelo, a church historian, knew that the last Pope named John was disreputable Pope of questionable legitimacy. However, by choosing to be called John XXII, Angelo restored legitimacy to the name. Other also think he might have chosen that name because he knew previous John XXII had called a council to reform and renew the church. Did Angelo already have an inkling that he too would soon call a council? What we do know is that on January 25, 1959, less than three month after his election, as John XXII concluded mass as the Basilica of St Paul outside the walls with small group of cardinals in attendance. He announces his intention to call an ecumenical council. In his dairy, journal of a soul, john described this desire for a council as indeed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The announcement was greeted with stunned silence.
John’s purpose for calling an ecumenical council centered on his vision of what it means to the church. He insisted, “We are not here on earth to guard a museum, but to tend a blooming garden full of life”. He emphasized that “the church is not archeological museum, but the ancient fountain which slakes the thirst of the generation of today as she did that of the generation of the past.” The pope envisioned the council, inspired by the Holy Spirit, as creating the opportunity for a “new Pentecost”, allowing the spirit to reinvigorate the world.
For the Pontiff, the council was an opportunity for aggiornamento, the updating that every generation of Christian must do to incarnate Jesus’ message and mission in its own culture. He looked forward to a church that would be attuned to the “signs of the times”, opening itself to the new Pentecost that the spirit of God was ushering in for the benefits of the world.
In the opening speech, the pontiff asserted:
In this assembly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we wish to inquire how we ought to renew ourselves so that we may be found increasingly faithful to the gospel of Christ we shall take Pains so as to present to the man of this age God’s truth in its integrity and purity that may understand it and gladly assent to it. (W.M. Abbott, the Documents of Vatican II, London Geoffrey Chapman 1966, p.716)
Vatican II was the greatest council so far held in the church by virtue of the number and variety of those who will participate in its meeting. The largest previous ecumenical council had been Vatican I with seven hundred and thirty seven bishops in attendance while more than two thousand four hundred bishops from all over the world were in attendance at the second Vatican council with theologians and other experts. Also present were non catholic and lay observer with the arrival of three representatives of Orthodox Church.
3.1 documentation of the Vatican council
The most profound achievement of Vatican II was the promulgation of sixteen documents which was divided into three namely: (1.) Four constitutions (2.) Nine Decrees (3.) Three Declarations
The four constitutions include:
1. Constitution on the liturgy:- Sacrosanctum Cocilium – This document centers on the general principles for the restoration and progress of the liturgy. It encourages active participation and the use of vernacular in the liturgy.
2. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium (8 Chapters) – This discusses the mystery of the church, the people of God, the episcopate, the laity and the universal call to holiness.
3. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World – Guadium et Spes. (Lengthy introduction and nine chapters) it concerns the human condition in today’s world. Role of the church, marriage and family, culture etc. the church cannot afford to turn its back to what is happening in the world.
4. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum (introduction and six Chapters) this document emphasized on the nature of revelation. Its transmission – scripture, tradition, people of God, magisterium) The church maintains – the source of revelation is not from the scripture as Luther held, nor from scripture and tradition as we earlier argued in the Church but from Jesus Christ.
5. Decree on the means of Social communication inter Mirifica – An introduction and two chapters). Discusses the media of information (radio, film, television) in themselves and in their relationship with the pastoral function of the church.
6. Decree on the Easter Catholic Church: Orientalium Ecclesiarum (an introduction and – thirty paragraphs) The Document talks about the Unity of the Church, dignity and riches of Eastern Churches. The Patriarchates, Eastern Tradition and Communication in Sacris.
7. Decree on Ecumenism: Unitatis Reintegratio – an introduction and three Chapters – it focuses on catholic principles of ecumenism, its exercise, relation between separated brethren, the ecclesiological status of communities separated from the roman see.
8. Decree on pastoral office of Bishops in the Church:- Christus Dominus (introduction and three chapter) This document discusses the bishops who are constituted members of the Episcopal body and successor of the college of the Apostle. The document maintains that all priest whether diocesan or religious share and exercise with the bishop the one priesthood of Christ. They are providential cooperators of the Episcopal order.
9. Decree on the renewal and adaptation of the religious life: Perfectae Caritais – Deal with principles for the renewal of religious life
10. Decree on Formation of Priest: Optatam Totius – Examines priestly vocations, organization of seminaries, formation of priest etc.
11. Decree on the Apostolates of the laity: Apostolicam Actuositatem – looks at the vocation of the laity, goals to achieved, field of apostolate etc
12. Decree on the church’s missionary activity: Ad Gentes – Contains the doctrinal principal of mission. The father’s design, sending the son and the spirit, missionary nature of the Church etc.
13. Decree on the ministry and life of priests: Prebyterorum Ordinis–preoccupies itself with the in the mission of the church, ministry of priest, their functions (word and sacrament etc.
14. Declaration on Christian Education: Gravissimum Educationis – stresses the universal right to education, Christian Education, those responsible for it. Duties and rights of parents etc.
15. Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non – Christian religions Nostra Aetate. Discuss the community of people, the different non Christian religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Islamism, and Judaism. The universal fraternity, which excludes all discrimination.
16. Declaration on the religious Freedom: Dignitatis Humanae – considers the objects and bases of religious freedom, individual and collective. Its exercise and limits. etc
These sixteen documents constituted the first comprehensive treatment of doctrine and the church order since the council of Trent. The content of these documents are aimed at realizing the major goals of the council which are: renewal of the church, unity of all Christians, and dialogue with the world.
3.2 The principal focus of the council:
The primary focus of the council was “renewal”. This has to do with the deepening of our relationship with the risen Christ, affecting our relationship with one another.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there had been considerable study of the scriptures, the early church writing and history of liturgy this “return to the source” provided wider perspective on the church than were available in the theology textbook in use before the council. These resourcement studies became decisive in the direction the council took and they continue to be useful tools for proper interpretation and implementation of the council. Thirdly, there is wisdom and reassurance in pope john’s reminder that “The substance of the ancient doctrine of faith is one and the way it is presented another thing. (cf his opening speech 11th October, 1962) in other word, the church and its mission remain the same even as it strives to improve the way it exercises its ministries, celebrates the sacrament and expresses its teachings.
Infact, the general purpose of the council itself was summarized in the first paragraph of the constitution on the sacred liturgy thus.
The sacred council has several aims in view; it desires to impact an ever Increasing vigor to the Christians life of faith, to adapt more suitable to the need of our times those institutions which are subject to change. To foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ, strengthen whatever can help to call the whole mankind into the house hold of the church. The council therefore sees particular cogent reason for undertaking the reform promotion of the liturgy. (SC n1)
4.0 Innovation highlighted in the Documents
4.1 Active participation of the faithful:
One if the aims which council considered necessary and is fully actualized was “the active participation of the faithful in liturgical celebration” This “actuosa participation” had been a pivot point of liturgical debate for the last two centuries. For clarification the documentation explains:
To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamation and songs, gesture and bodily attitude. And at proper time, all should observe reverent silence. (SC 30)
Active participation is a call for a deeper and more united engagement of mind, heart and body. We are encouraged to speak and sing the mass, engage our bodies in various liturgical postures (standing, sitting and kneeling) and gesture and maintain bodily attitudes. It brings about a unified form of one`s being to the mysteries of the word and sacrament.
Actousa Particiatio means a willing and conscious participation in these mysteries. The council has made us to understand that active participation in the liturgy celebrations is not meant for bishops and priest alone. It is a collective role of all the faithful present at the celebration. The council maintains that in the liturgical celebration each person, minister or layman who has an office to perform should do all of, but only those part which pertain to his office by nature of the rite and principles of liturgy. (SC 38)
4.2 Liturgical Language and Celebration:
Prior to the second Vatican council, Latin was perhaps thought to be the only language God understood. Mass and some other sacrament were celebrated in Latin. All the liturgical text were in Latin and most of the people – unlike the faithful in the Middle Ages and in European countries did not master this language or even understand a word of it. It gave the sacred actions “mysterious” outlook and made them seem “out of this world” all the more so, because you could not see what the priest was doing during the Mass, since he was standing with his back to the congregation. With Vatican II, the use of the vernacular language or mother – tongue was approved not only for parts of the mass but also for the celebration of every sacrament. The council maintained that the faithful could be better nurtured through “full conscious and active participation in liturgical celebration which is demanded by the very nature of liturgy (SC 4) it directed national councils of bishops to establish liturgical commission whose task is to produce suitable translation of liturgical texts. While local commissions are engaged upon this work, the central liturgical commission meets in Rome. Its primary function is to adapt the liturgy needs if modern times. For regarding the mass, the council stated that it is permissible to have legitimate variation and adaptations to different groups, regions and peoples especially in mission lands provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved. (SC 38) the council discovered the power of music and art as the transcendent quality and conducive power of prayer thereby making people to rediscover there music heritage. Through the approval of the use of the vernacular, Vatican II gave room to many musical compositions that enrich our liturgy and help us raise our hearts and mind to God. Liturgical music has enriched the Igbo theological vocabulary. The theological embodied in some of the hymns need to be reexamined in not to allow heretical doctrines infiltrate and vitiate our musical compositions. (e.g. Gesu no n’ oriri di nso…..)
4.3 Changes at Eucharistic celebration:
With Vatican II, liturgy became the celebration of the entire people of God. One of the greatest effects of the council was the recovery of the liturgical role of the congregation at mass and the restoration to the people of the responses, songs, acclamation and prayers appropriate to them. Another important consequence was the restoration of the liturgical ministries, lector, cantor, and acolyte, for example, so that, led by the priest, ministers and people each play their part. There was the opening up of the church to the world. Just as at mass the priest now turned to face the people, so now a confident church to turn to face and embrace all humanity. The turning of face and embrace humanity is not restrictive but also led to a new relationship with other Christian churches and with other religions, recognition that salvation was possible outside the Catholic Church. The church does not need to look away but has to face the people. In addition since the lay faithful share in the priesthood of Christ, they are not passive participants at any liturgical celebration but active. They therefore celebrate with the priest. They could be described as co–celebrants to distinguish them from priest assisting the principal celebrant who are traditionally designated as concelebrants.
4.4 Pattern of Building Churches: The change in the position of the head of the liturgical assembly also affected the pattern of building churches that are no longer longitudinal but centripetal in outlook. Since after Vatican II, ecclesial typology has shifted from the longitudinal plan in which the congregation forms a linear procession toward a terminally located sacred object to the centripetal plan in which the congregation groups around a centrally located sacred object. J.C. Ike rightly observed that ‘church buildings are now being constructed on the basis of theological rather than secular consideration …. The short rectangular, square, parabolic, circular, and polygonal, L–shaped and T–shaped ground plans are replacing the long rectangular ground plan.`` (J.C. ike, “Church buildings and Christian celebration `` in H.C. Achunike (ed), op. cit., p. 97). This replacement is the outcome of post Vatican II theology.
Unfortunately some modern church structures in Igbo land built after Vatican II and some which are still being constructed depict unawareness of this change in theology.
4.5 A New Understand of the Church
The first and most basic ecclesiological principal at Vatican II is that the church is a mystery, (cf Ratzinger J, the spirit of the liturgy, San Francisco: Ignatus press, 200, p.171) or sacrament, and not only or even primary an instruction or organization. To say that the church is a mystery, or sacrament, means, that it is a reality imbued with the hidden presence of God. In other words, the church is not just a religious organization to which we belong or which we serve. The church is rather the corporate presence of God in Christ, with a unity created and sustained by the Holy Spirit.
With Vatican II, the church launched a shift from an exclusive ecclesiology to an inclusive ecclesiology. With the ecclesiology of Vatican I, the Church was known as the church of the Pope and Bishop and priest, giving a lesser voice or non to the lay faithful. In Lumen Gentium, Vatican II teaches that the church is the “people of God” In this way, the council refers to the great biblical and patristic tradition that considers the church not from the hierarchy but from the common condition of baptism, which is the fundamental Christian identity. There is therefore, one chosen people of God: one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 45) There is a common dignity of members deriving from the from the rebirth in Christ, a common grace as sons, a common vocation to perfection, one salvation, one hope and undivided charity. If the lay faithful are not new arrivals in the church or bystanders, they are stakeholders and insiders and have the obligation not only to assist in the propagation of the faith but also to defend the church. The hierarchical theology of the Church emphasized in the previous century at Vatican I with its doctrine of papal infallibility was complemented at Vatican II by the more communal and biblical image of the church being the people of God, with its common priesthood of the faithful. The council affirmed the fundamental equality of all God’s people within the church, united in Christ, through the sacrament of baptism.
4.6 The place and mission of the lay faithful.
A century before Vatican ii, Bishop Ullathorne of Birmingham once challenged John Henry Cardinal Newman with the question, who are the laity? Newman aptly restored: the church world look foolish without them’. This was certainly not the type of answer the high ranking ecclesiastic was expecting from the learned protestant convert but Newman’s answer understand the importance and the indispensability of the layman in the church. Vatican Council expanded on Newman’s when it noted that ‘an individual layman, by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which he may enjoy, is permitted and sometimes even obliged to express his opinion on things which concern the good of the church.’ (Lumen Gentium n. 37) This indicates that the layman is to be taken seriously in the church. Again it is stated the ‘All faithful, clerical and lay, posses a lawful freedom of enquiry and of thought, and freedom to express their minds humbly and courageously about those matters in which they enjoy competence. (Guadium et Spes n.62) With time the laity was no longer seen as those who lack clerical status, but rather enjoyed a progressive consideration as moving from the ‘auxiliaries of the hierarchy of Pius XII to the ‘gospel-inspired lay people’ of Paul VI, call through their baptism and confirmation to share in the salvific mission of the Church’ (Newman, On Consulting the faithful in matter of Doctrine 1986: p. vi). Prior to Vatican II, especially between the 9th and 10th centuries, the spiritual life of the Church was organized in such a way that the Closter was acknowledge as virtually the only place for the committed Christians. This made people to develop the conception that the only way to salvation was by enrolment into the monastic life. As Michael winter revealed:
The monks were the Pentecost church created and renewed by the Holy Spirit. If they utterly renounce the world and were faithful to their calling, they were already living in paradise: the great silence which engulfed the Closter was a participation in the eternal silence of God, and the monk was united through the practice of unbroken prayer. (Winter, M, Whatever happened to Vatican li, London: Sheed and Ward, 1985, p. 52)
This attitude which was to influence the church for many centuries to come received a decisive breakthrough in the 17th century, with the work of St Francis de Sales, The Introduction to the Devout Life. With this book it was believed that a lay person leading a normal wage – earning and family life could aspire to holiness in that context. Pius XI after the First World War encouraged lay people to share in the church’s mission, not just as the recipients of commands from the clergy, But in the role of decision makers, assuming responsibility themselves. Vatican II brought the debate to an end by reaffirming explicitly that the vocation of the lay people to holiness as part of the whole vocation of the church. The council gave a laity the green light to found and run organization or to join those already existing. The prayer life of the laity has benefited not only form the direct Conciliar decision but indirectly too from the more confident atmosphere generated by ecumenical movement. The adoption of vernacular and the restructuring of the Divine Office have made the official prayer of the church accessible to lay people, e.g. the knight of St. Mulumba and the Oblates of St. Benedict and most of them are building their spirituality thereon. The Charismatic movement too has had a profound effect upon the lives of many people whose prayers beforehand were little more than ejaculatory.
On the other hand, while the council admitted that lay faithful share in the church’s responsibility for mission, it however, maintain that it is the prerogative of the diocese as a local church under the pastoral care of the bishop to ensure the spread of the message of the gospel through means of evangelization.
4.7 Impact on the understanding of the sacraments
The changes brought about by the second Vatican Council have its effect on the Sacraments. By virtue o the sacrament of baptism all the people of God share a common responsibility to preach the Gospel. Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist constitute the sacraments of Christian initiation, which initiate one into a community of faith. The council called for a new rite for the baptism of Children; this rite acknowledges the parents’ role in presenting their child for baptism and their responsibility for raising their child in the faith. Part of the changes in the preference for communal form of celebration which explains why children are baptized during Sunday masses. By the sacrament of confirmation, the faithful are more perfectly bound to the Church and are endowed with the special strength of the Holy Spirit (LG 11) The council fathers directed that the rite of confirmation be revisited so that “The intimate connection which the sacrament has with the whole Christian invitation may be more closely set forth. The recent understanding of the sacrament of reconciliation reflects a change in focus, from what we do (confess our sins, do a penance) to what God does (reconcile us), not only with himself but also with the church. The fourth sacrament is therefore designated as the sacrament of reconciliation. Before the council the sacrament of anointing was known as extreme unction, the anointing (unction) for persons at the point of death (in extremis). We now speak of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, indicating that this sacrament is intended for all who are seriously ill. As we embrace a more holistic view of health and wellness, we pray not only for physical healing but also for mental and spiritual healing. The council brought about two major changes in our understanding of the sacrament of marriage. First, the council speaks of marriage as a “covenant” the marriage covenant helps us think in biblical and interpersonal categories that reach beyond the legal categories of the marriage contract. The marriage that covenant is a symbol of God’s covenant with humanity. Secondly, the council taught that the purpose of marriage is not only to produce children but also to enable the couple to support one another in mutual love. So childlessness is no sufficient reason to annul a valid marriage. Marriage is an “intimate partnership” of life and love (church in the modern world, n. 48). The sacrament of holy orders has three sacrament orders: the Orders of the Episcopate (bishops), the Orders of Presbyters (priest), and the orders or Deacons According to the council, the bishop is ordained to fullness of the sacrament of orders. By his ordination a bishop becomes a member of the college of bishops and assumes responsibility not only for his own local church but also for the universal church. Two major changes by the council affected the lives of the priest. First, while the ordained have specific miniseries within the church, the council affirmed that the basis of all miniseries is baptism into the body of Christ. Second while the council place the priest in the midst of the baptized and said that priests should “work together with the lay faithful” (PO. n.9) To go from being “set apart from the faithful” to living “in midst of the faithful” was a big change. The council affirmed that priests are in a certain sense “set apart” but they are not be “separated” from the people of God because priest cannot serve the faithful if they are their lives and conditions (PO n.3). Deacon had ministered in the western Church until about the fifth century. By the time of the second Vatican council, the order of the deacons was simply a transitional stage for those “passing through” on their way to the priesthood. The council restored Order of Deacons, making it a permanent ministry in the church. The bishops of the church decided to permit married men to be ordained deacons. In 1967, there no permanent deacons, today there are over thirty thousand permanent deacons worldwide.
5.0 Challenges Emanating from Vatican II:
According to Pope John Paul II, one of the most important achievements of the second Vatican council was rediscovery of the charismatic dimension of the church. The Pope also sees the new ecclesial movements and communities as being an answer to Pope John’s dream of a new Pentecost. This aspect of the new Pentecost poses a problem to being a church today with the geometrical drift of our youth to the new generation churches or ecclesial communities. It challenges our faith and our ability to market or showcase this faith and make it attractive to present age withal its sophistication. It places us on the alert, makes us not sedentary but dynamic in our quest to transmit the Christian faith and win more souls for Christ. We can today no longer afford to sit down and watch the once vibrant Catholic Church turn ancient and ageing with the gradual eclipse of the youth or their apparent Luke warmness to the faith, the church and whatever it stands for. It is a danger signal to the clergy that they cannot earn their daily bread without conscientiously working for it by devising new strategies of preaching the gospel an making it relevant to the men and women of today. It s a wakeup call to restrategise and make the faith speak to the congregation of today.
5.3 Need for an approved Igbo Rite of Eucharistic Celebration
The council authorized the inculturation of the liturgy. (cf 37, 38) Pope Paul VI in his apostolic letter used a musical image when he spoke of the need to “transpose” (Paul VI, Apostolic letter on Evangelization n. 63). The Igbo Church, in the light of invasion by the new generation churches, is of age enough to be able to fashion and ask for approval of its own rite of celebration, of the mass and other sacraments. In the absence of an approved Igbo rite of celebration, any addition to the exiting Roman Rite will be considered an abuse and will not be allowed. Most of our people will not contemplative in their enough to be able to remain silent and mediate on the mystery that is celebrated at any liturgical function. They want to be involved actively in the human and divine encounter that takes place during the celebration of mass for instance. If the necessary dialogue and ululations can be inserted in the liturgy and permission obtained for it use, it will save us from liturgical abuses. The appropriate Vatican Decastery may be ready to do this as it has already approved the Zairian liturgy.
5.4 Absence of Televangelism
There is no Catholic presence in the electronic media world especially in this part of the globe. We say thanks to our bishop and to Fr. Peter Anyanwu the director of communication in our diocese; the print media have a sustainable presence in our diocese. Such cannot be said of the electronic media. In the whole Igboland, there is a negligible access to or use of the electronic media by the Catholic Church. If you tune to Multi TV or CTL satellite dish all the transmissions are owned by the new generation Churches – Emmanuel TV, Love World, Hosanna, Spirit World, Prophetic Channel, Chosen TV, Omega TV, El Shaddia, God TV, Praise TV, Evangel TV, Inspiration TV to mention a but few. There you men in suit and tie with the bible in hand, jumping up and down, with unimaginable gesticulation, (sometimes you may think they are challenging god to a duel), trying to force down their own version of the bible down the throat of their weird listeners. They make them get acquainted to the man of God in civil attire. The clerical gown gradually loses its attraction and impact. The only catholic transmissions you find are relayed by the EWTN and sometimes the AIT that broadcasts Eucharistic celebration every morning.
In the late seventies and early eighties, Rev Fr Theophilus Okere made much impact in the media with his religious programme at the NTA Channel 6. Many Catholics and even non Catholics looked forward to the beautiful programme where seminarians rendered heart lifting songs punctuated intermittently by Fr Okere`s inspiring reflections. The Church in Igboland can unite to resurrect that TV programmed or begin another: ``The Catholic Hour` at any TV station, what it cost can neither be compared to the sound doctrine it will serve to disseminate nor the faith it will nurture. Commenting on the impact of high cost on televangelism H.C Achunike wrote:
Members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Onitcha, have taken up this challenge in their own humble way throng without theological leadership, updates and necessary vetting or supervision before presentation. Their programmed is televised from 6.30 P.M 7.00 P.M every Sunday. Their radio programme has been suspended for four years now because of lack of funds. However dome of their members have come to their aid in their financial straits. Recently, Brother Cyril Ray Olisah, a business and a Charismatic, paid half a million for the televangelism and promised to repeat the act when the charismatic secure their lost prime time. (C.F Okeke, interviews, August 19 2001, in H.C Achunike (ed) Evangelization in the third millennium, A contemporary Analysis, Africana – Feb publisher Limited, Onitsha 2002, p.78)
This reveals that lack of fund can prevent the use of the electronic media in propagating the faith. But as a way out “a prominent televangelist proclaimed that is our duty to commit all out resources, both human and material, to tell the world about Christ…” (cited in H.C Achunike, op.cit, p 78) in other words, no sacrifice is too much in the bid to avail the church of the use the media in Evangelization.
5.5 Inabilities to evolve an Igbo Theology
Fifty years after Vatican II, there is no Igbo theology, are the Igbo still unable to articulate their understanding of the God of Jesus Christ in their own socio – cultural and religious milieu? Prof. Mondin of the Urban University Rome wrote a book which he titled - Dove Va Teologia? Theology in professor Mondin’s perspective is heading towards pluralism. This pluralism has not been reflected in the Igbo religious setting. They have not been able to agree on an Igbo way looking at and understanding God. There was a serious attempt to serialize and chronicle various attempts by some Igbo theologians or professors to fashion an Igbo theology. The author of the article ended up dismissing the attempts as lacking merits. This is the Igbo common disease – every other person says nonsense except me. Forgetting that in the development of the church’s sacramental theology letter attempts built on previous efforts and dismiss them even Tertulian built on the pace set by his predecessors before he was able to give the church one of the finest and most precious terminologies namely – sacramentum. Theology is not philosophy where one philosopher will render a devastating blow to causality before launching his own philosophy. Igbo effort at formulating their theology does not need to end in a single brand of theology. Contemporary theology has different brands for instance: the theology: The theology of the word, theology of history, theology of secularization, liberation theology to mention but a few. Each can emphasize an aspect which may receive less attention in the order. Thus they end up being complementary and not contradictory.
5.6 inadequate translations of liturgical texts
Vatican II ordered the translation of liturgical text, fifty years after we are still over whelmed by poor unsatisfactory translations.- English liturgical texts are the worst victims of wrong translations. One can take the Roman Canon as an example. The text as it appears today was composed between the fourth century and seventh century. From the time of Pope Gregory the great (604) it was never modified again. (cf. E. Mazzy, Le Preghiere Eucharistiche I, Struttura, Teologia, Fonti. EDB, Bologna, 1984, p. 73) In the “commemoration pro vivis” we read – pro quibis tibi offerimus: vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudi, (Usoro Emume Missa, p. 190) the Italian translation is “per loro ti offriamo e anch’ essi ti offrono questo sacrificio do lode. The German Text reads – für sie bringen wir dieses Opfer des lobes dar, und sie selber weihen es dir. The Igbo text which was translated very probably from Engllish and not from the original Latin text we have this: Anyi na ehunyere Gi aja otito nkea maka onwe anyi nan di di anyi nʼobi, na ario Gi, bu ezi Chinele di ndu ….. the most recent English ˝The Order of Mass also has a wrong translation – for them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them˝ (The Order of Mass, St Paul’s publication, Nairobi, 2011, p. 16) Vatican II gave permission for translation of texts, but there have been serious difficulties of accurate translations. In Igbo language we do not yet have appropriate words for even – Mass, Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is not Nkwuputa. More effort is still needed.
5.7 The Exit of some lay people from the church:
Moved by fresh air which Pope John Paul XXIII hoped to be allowed into the church and by the Holy Spirit, most lay people instead of remaining in the Catholic Church to render their services decided to opt out to establish their own ecclesial community. Hence most of the Pentecostal churches are lay churches. Their services are restricted to the liturgy of the word. If they had been humble and patient to remain in the church, one flock under one shepherd, they would have legitimately founded or become members of pious societies in the Catholic Church. Let all disabuse their minds from the thought that talented lay people have no place in the Catholic Church and hence they must leave the Church in order to allow their charism to flourish. Lumen Gentium maintains that if by Christ’s will some are established as teachers, dispensers of the mysteries and pastors for others (LG 32) such ministries are not personal honours or privileges but for services amongst the people of God. Hence it has to be placed within the context of the story of salvation and the history of men.
Let those in the church not forget that God can make use of whatever he wishes to work wonders and hence we should not suffocate the spirit at work in our fellow Christians
5.8 Reaching out to other Churches or Ecclesial Communities
The request for Christian unity is missionary responsibility, for the church is called to be sacrament of Christ and of the unity of the triune God who is present within the church. The decree on ecumenism – Unitatis Redintegratio is remarkable for variety of reasons: it describes the ecumenical movement as one seeking the restoration of Christian unity of the Catholic Church: it acknowledges the ecclesial reality of other Christian’s communities, which share the same sacred scriptures, the same life of grace, the same faith, the same baptism, and other common elements which constitute the church. ˝Concern for restoring Christian unity pertains to the whole church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone according to the potential of each whether it is exercised in daily life or in theological or historical studies.˝ (UR 5)
Vatican II allowed mixed marriages but granted local Ordinaries the faculty of dispensing from the two impediments of mixed religion and disparity of worship, in accordance with the Apostolic Letter, Pastorale Munus, Unfortunately there are still some female organizations that ostracize any member whose daughter is married to an Anglican. Vatican II has however opened the door to search for what unites us with these ecclesial communities while joining the lord to pray full communion of these churches – that they may be one. There have been commendable efforts at the local Government and state levels to identify with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) However, it has been noted that some member of the clergy still have apathy form non – denominational service (is it that we are not prepare for ecumenical service?) just as they equally shun the activities of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) considering it as a protestant affair, Thereby allowing it to turn to a political tool in the hands of politician.
5.9 Any need for permanent deacons in the Church
Vatican II creates room for the ordination of permanent deacons. Though the pastoral situation in Igboland at the moment may not favour such ordinations, and hence there in none, it is pertinent to note that the council allows a restoration of the "diaconate as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy" (LG 29) The council however noted that “it pertain to the competent local Episcopal conferences, of one kind or another, with the approval of the supreme pontiff, to decide whether and where it is opportune that such deacons be appointed” (ibid) With such approval, ״it will be possible to confer this diaconal order even upon married men, provided the be of more mature age, and also a suitable young men, for whom, however the law of celibacy must remain in force.״ (ibid)
A RESUME OF CONCILIAR POSITIONS
1. Vatican II is not about replacing what the church is, it about helping it to become what God intended it to be.
2. Vatican II revitalized liturgy, opened up relation with other religions, and drew lay people into service. It open the doors of the church to the modern world.
3. The priest turned around to face the flock. The sonorous Latin Mass celebrated by priest to a passive congregation became a rite active worship in the language of the people.
4. Interfaith action became possible. Catholic, once forbidden to visit a protestant Church or Jewish synagogue, link arms with non – Catholics on the fronts lines of calls for social change.
5. Vatican II says the usual way to salvation is of course, the Catholic Church. But the order Chuches has access to this truth as well. We cannot draw boundaries for God. It was revolutionary to say other faiths have access to truths and have salvific values.
6. The lay people discovered that they were merely expected to pray, pay and obey the clergy. They were, as Vatican II called them “people of God” or at least a part of this people, and were charged to live their faith in the world and to have a voice in their church, offering the “sense of the faithful. Lumen Getium says in part” lay people have a right and are indeed sometimes duty bound to express themselves in matters concerning thru good of the church.
7. With Vatican II, a new code of canon law, a new liturgical calendar, use of the lectionary, New Rites of Ordination and baptism came into use.
8. Out of Vatican II came a firm rejection if anti – Semitism, a new relationship or respect and cooperation with non – Christian religions.
9. The Catholic Church believe that the Holy Spirit is already active within the hearts and the religious traditions of other religions. These conviction lads to the statement that “the catholic reject nothing of what is true and holy in these religions (NA n.). this does not by any means is does not signify any means that the church considers all religion equal, since it believes that the fullness of revelation has been given in Jesus Christ. Yet the attitude of respect provides the ground for dialogue and cooperation at the service of all members of human race.
Pope John XXIII did not live to see the four years of council session. He died in 1963, succeeded by Pope Paul VI who navigated the council to its successful conclusion. Vatican II is a council that values cultures, appreciates diversity and enthrones tolerance. It exemplifies an invitation to look beyond ethno – religious and socio – cultural affiliations to embrace the wider community of faith built not only on those who hear the word of God and keep it but also on believers who live according to the dictates of their conscience. The Igbo Church has not yet tapped the rich theological and doctrinal traditions contained in the council documents. Courage is need, more studies requires in order to allow the outcome of the second Vatican council to transform the Igbo Church for effective evangelization, more active participation of the faithful in liturgical activities and the subsequent life of witness to the gospel message.
This year of faith is an opportunity given to all to deepen their knowledge of the doctrine of the church as contained in the document if the second Vatican council and as synthesized in the new catechism of the Catholic Church. Let us intensify the study of these documents in our homes, stations and parishes. Providing a diocesan center for such studies may not be out of place. Vatican II announces to us that no nation, no race, no people, no culture is ungodly. Hence the births of such Documents like – Unitatis reintegration. There is the tincture of God in each person, people, and tribe and culture. (After all we are all created in the image and likeness of God) if we have the eyes of faith, we will be able to discover God at work in every person, tribe and nation. In this year of faith, let us therefore solemnly declare and pray: lord increase our faith.