With the example of the lifestyle of Pope Francis there is renewed interest in many circles in a document known as the ‘Pact of the Catacombs’. Can all bishops and all who are in authority positions in church learn from it?
As Vatican Council II drew to a close in 1965, 40 bishops met at night in the Domitilla Catacombs outside Rome. In that holy place of Christian dead they celebrated the Eucharist and signed a document that expressed their personal commitments as bishops to the ideals of the Council under the suggestive title of the Pact of the Catacombs.
It is known that the bishops were led by Archbishop Helder Camara of Recife, Brazil, one of the widely respected 20th century champions of justice and peace.
The pact had some clear objectives;
“We renounce forever the appearance and the substance of wealth, especially in clothing (rich vestments, loud colours)…”
“As far as possible we will entrust the financial and material running of our diocese to a commission of competent lay persons…”
“We do not want to be addressed verbally or in writing with names and titles that express prominence and power (such as Eminence, Excellency, Lordship)…”
“we will try be make ourselves as humanly present and welcoming as possible; and we will show ourselves to be open to all, no matter what their beliefs…”