Plans for an anniversary

It is almost September. In the words of a great American poet, it is “strange how the night moves with autumn closing in.” 2017 will be gone before we know it.

Everyone knows that 2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae vitae, Paul VI’s towering reaffirmation of the Church’s moral teaching with respect to sexual matters. Fewer people know (probably) that 2018 also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Paul VI’s Solemni hac liturgia, the statement made at the end of his Year of Faith, which sets forth the Credo of the People of God. There had been in the preparatory sessions for the Council much discussion about revisions to the profession of faith formulated at the Council of Trent and revised slightly following the First Vatican Council. However, these discussions did not bear much fruit at the Council, for which we may be grateful, as Paul’s Credo of the People of God is a wonderful expression of Christian faith.

Paul’s motu proprio begins with a lightning bolt statement: “We dedicated it [i.e., the Year of Faith] to the commemoration of the holy apostles in order that we might give witness to our steadfast will to be faithful to the deposit of the faith which they transmitted to us, and that we might strengthen our desire to live by it in the historical circumstances in which the Church finds herself in her pilgrimage in the midst of the world.” He went on to say, shortly thereafter:

Likewise, we deem that we must fulfill the mandate entrusted by Christ to Peter, whose successor we are, the last in merit; namely, to confirm our brothers in the faith. With the awareness, certainly, of our human weakness, yet with all the strength impressed on our spirit by such a command, we shall accordingly make a profession of faith, pronounce a creed which, without being strictly speaking a dogmatic definition, repeats in substance, with some developments called for by the spiritual condition of our time, the creed of Nicea, the creed of the immortal tradition of the holy Church of God.

In making this profession, we are aware of the disquiet which agitates certain modern quarters with regard to the faith. They do not escape the influence of a world being profoundly changed, in which so many certainties are being disputed or discussed. We see even Catholics allowing themselves to be seized by a kind of passion for change and novelty. The Church, most assuredly, has always the duty to carry on the effort to study more deeply and to present, in a manner ever better adapted to successive generations, the unfathomable mysteries of God, rich for all in fruits of salvation. But at the same time the greatest care must be taken, while fulfilling the indispensable duty of research, to do no injury to the teachings of Christian doctrine. For that would be to give rise, as is unfortunately seen in these days, to disturbance and perplexity in many faithful souls.

(Emphasis supplied.) If you have not read the Credo, we will not spoil it for you by setting it forth at length. Read it at the Vatican website. In Latin, if you can. We will however quote a contemporary commentator:

[A]mong all this tumult a light has shone forth capable of reducing to nought the attempts of the world to bring Christ’s Church to an end. On June 30, 1968 the Holy Father published his Profession of Faith. It is an act which from the dogmatic point of view is more important than all the Council.

This Credo, drawn up by the successor of Peter to affirm the faith of Peter, was an event of quite exceptional solemnity. When the Pope rose to pronounce it the Cardinals rose also and all the crowd wished to do likewise, but he made them sit down again. He wanted to be alone, as Vicar of Christ, to proclaim his Credo and he did it with the most solemn of words, in the name of the Blessed Trinity, before the holy angels and before all the Church. In consequence, he has made an act which pledges the faith of the Church.

We have thereby the consolation and the confidence of feeling that the Holy Ghost has not abandoned us. We can say that the Act of Faith that sprang from the First Vatican Council has found its other resting point in the profession of faith of Paul VI.

The commentator? Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, in his Open Letter to Confused Catholics.

Perhaps then someone ought to draw up plans for commemorating the Credo of the People of God next year, recalling Paul VI’s intention in having it prepared (allegedly by Jacques Maritain) and reciting it solemnly as an act pursuant to Our Lord’s mandate to Peter to confirm his brethren in the faith, and to defend the pure, apostolic faith.