The Catacombs’ Pact of the Poor and Servant Church1
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bishops gathered in the Second Vatican Council, made aware of the deficiencies
of our lives of poverty according to the Gospel; encouraged by each other; in an
initiative in which each one wishes to avoid singularity and presumption; united
with all our brothers in the Episcopate; counting above all on the grace and
strength of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the prayers of the faithful and the
priests of our respective dioceses; placing ourselves in thought and prayer
before the Trinity, before the Church of Christ and before the priests and
faithful of our dioceses; humbly conscious of our weakness, but also with all
the determination and strength which God wishes to give us as grace, commit
ourselves to the following:
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the
convocation of the Second Vatican Council, we remember fondly the
Alliance of the Catacombs of the Servant and Poor Church. On
November 16, 1965, a few days before the Council ended, forty Council
Fathers celebrated Eucharist in the Roman Catacombs of Domitilla. There
they signed the
Alliance of the Catacombs. Dom Hélder Câmara, whose 100th birthday
is being celebrated this year, was one of the prime movers in this
prophetic group. In 13 points, the Alliance insists on the
Evangelical poverty of the Church: without honorific titles, without
privileges, and without worldly ostentation. It insists on collegiality
and on co-responsibility in the Church as People of God. It calls for
openness to the world and brotherly and sisterly welcome.
Pedro Casaldáliga - Circular 2009
- We will seek to live according to the ordinary manner of our people,
regarding habitation, food, means of transport and all which springs from
this. Cf. Mt 5,3; 6,33s; 8,20.
- We definitively renounce the appearance and reality of riches,
especially regarding to our manner of dress (rich material, loud colours)
and symbols made of precious materials (they should in reality be
evangelical signs). Cf. Mc 6,9; Mt 10,9s; At 3,6. Neither gold nor silver.
- We will not possess real estate, goods, bank accounts etc. in our own
names; if it should be necessary to have them, we will place everything in
the name of the diocese, or of charitable and social works. Cf. Mt 6,19-21;
- Whenever possible, we will entrust the financial and material
administration in our dioceses to a commission of competent laity, conscious
of their apostolic rôle, so that we may become less administrators and more
pastors and apostles. Cf. Mt 10,8; At. 6,1-7.
- We refuse to be addressed, orally or in writing, by names or titles
which signify prestige and power (Eminence, Excellency, Monsignor...). We
prefer to be called by the evangelical title of Father. Cf. Mt 20,25-28;
23,6-11; Jn 13,12-15.
- In our behaviour and social relations, we will avoid anything which may
seem to confer priviledges, priority or any preference for the rich and
powerful (such as: banquets, offered or accepted, class distinction during
religious services. Cf. Lc 13,12-14; 1Cor 9,14-19.)
- In the same way we will avoid the fostering or pampering of the vanity
of anyone, in order to seeking reward or solicit donations, or for any
reason whatsoever. We will invite our faithful to consider their donations
as a normal participation in the cult, the apostolate and social action. Cf.
Mt 6,2-4; Lc 15,9-13; 2Cor 12,4.
- We will dedicate whatever is necessary of our time, reflection, heart,
means etc to the apostolic and pastoral service of people and groups of
workers and of the economically weak and underdeveloped, without prejudice
to the other people and groups in the diocese. We will support those laity,
religious, deacons and priests who the Lord calls to evangelize the poor and
the workers, sharing the work and life of labourers. Cf. Lc 4,18s; Mc 6,4;
Mt 11,4s; At 18,3s; 20,33-35; 1Cor 4,12 e 9,1-27.
- Conscious of the demands of justice and charity, and their mutual
relationship, we will seek to transform assistential activites into social
works based on justice and charity, which take into account all that this
requires, as a humble service of the competent public organs. Cf. Mt
25,31-46; Lc 13,12-14 e 33s.
- We will do our utmost so that those responsible for our government and
for our public services make, and put into practice, laws, structures and
social institutions required by justice and charity, equality and the
harmonic and holistic development of all men and women, and by this means
bring about the advent of another social order, worthy of the sons and
daughters of mankind and of God. Cf. At. 2,44s; 4,32-35; 5,4; 2Cor 8 e 9 ;
1Tim 5, 16.
- Believing the collegiality of the bishops to be of the utmost
evangelical importance in facing the burden of human masses in a state of
physical, cultural and moral misery – two thirds of humanity – we commit
- to participate, according to our means, in the urgent investments of
the episcopates of poor nations;
- to demand that the plans of international organizations, but
witnessing to the Gospel, as Pope Paul VI did in the UNO, adopt economic
and cultural structures which no longer manufacture proletarian nations
in an ever richer world, but which will permit the poor masses to
overcome their misery.
- We commit ourselves to share, in pastoral charity, our lives with our
brothers and sisters in Christ, priests, religious and laity, so that our
ministry constitute a true service; so,
- we will really try to “revise our lives” with them;
- we will find collaborators who will be more animators according to
the Spirit, rather then according to the chiefs of this world;
- we will seek to be more humanly present, more welcoming...;
- we will show ourselves to be open to all, whatever their religion.
Cf. Mc 8,34s; At 6,1-7; 1Tim 3,8-10.
- On returning to our respective dioceses, we will make this resolution
known to our people, asking them to help us by their understanding,
collaboration and prayers.
MAY GOD HELP US TO BE FAITHFUL!
- KLOPPENBURG, Boaventura (org.). Concílio Vaticano II.
Vol. V, Quarta Sessão. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1966, 526-528.