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Pope reminisces about work on Vatican II statement

Catholic World News - July 09, 2012

On July 9, Pope Benedict XVI traveled from his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo to the village of Nemi, to visit the Ad Gentes Center where he had once worked on a commission drafting the documents of Vatican II.

The Ad Gentes Center, administered by the Divine Word missionaries, was the location where a group of experts including the young Father Joseph Ratzinger drafted Ad Gentes, the Vatican II statement on missionary activity, in 1965. Returning to the scene 47 years later, the Pope reflected modestly that he had been “a very young theologian of no great importance” at the time. But he said that his short stay at Nemi was “perhaps the most memorable of the whole Council.”

Recalling the work of the drafting committee, the Pope paid special tribute to several members: Father Johannes Schütte, who had been expelled from China and become worldwide leader of the Divine Word missionaries; Bishop Fulton Sheen, “who would fascinate us in the evenings with his talks; and the Dominican theologian Father (later Cardinal) Yves Congar. The decree that they drafted, he said, was “without great controversy” and “almost unanimously accepted by the Fathers of the Council.”

The Ad Gentes decree, the Pope said, was “a very good complement to Lumen Gentium, from which we find a Trinitarian ecclesiology, that starts above all from the classical idea that bonum diffusivum sivi sui, good has the inherent need to communicate, to give of itself, it can not remain self-contained.” That recognition, he explained, is an essential element of the need to evangelize, “to give others the good we have received.”

The Pope thanked the Divine Word missionaries for their work, and promised prayers for its continued success. A priest who helped greet the Pontiff said that his visit was “electric,” and the missionaries were inspired by his talk, which he delivered extemporaneously.

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