THE PRESS, which up to that point had been following the Second Vatican Council with sympathy, was in many ways nonplussed by the results of the first session. Had anything actually come of it, or just nothing? The predominant, if vague, feeling was that the first session could be regarded as having been satisfactory. But then, after the Council itself had refrained from announcing any sensational decisions, one was still left fumbling in the dark. Not that there was any lack of reports. How could a gathering of two and a half thousand people, held in a city which is almost the natural home of gossip, be expected to keep a secret? Basically, everything that happened at the Council found its way into the press. So we are not violating any "conciliar secret" by talking about these open secrets. What is needed is to sort these reports out. To do this in an objective way is what will be attempted here.
We may start by remembering the feeling that reigned amongst "the initiated" on the eve of the Council: depressed, pessimistic, dispirited. It looked as though curial organization had condemned Vatican II in advance to be the Roman Diocesan Synod over again, with no serious discussion and no far-reaching decisions. All the struggles that had gone on before the Council for the Council's sake, for the sake of its aim of renewing the Catholic Church in preparation for the reunion of separated Christians, looked as though they had been in vain.* But we can then go on to remember____________________