Statement by the Provisional International Council of Priests in Relation to the Government of the Church — May, 1956
The Provisional International Council of Priests has effected certain changes within its government which it believes to be necessary for the welfare of the Church.
From its experience of the past nine years the Council has come to recognize that it has been exercising a dual function. On the one hand it has had the function of considering and of giving formulation to the Doctrine of the Church, and on the other hand it has had the function of the government of the ecclesiastical things of the Church.
The Council believes that the lime has come when these two functions should be further distinguished and given more distinct form in the Church. It has come to see that the conception of the Doctrine of the Church belongs to a realm of the spirit in the Church in which the difference between priests and laymen is secondary, and that the governing of the ecclesiastical things belongs as far as possible within the sphere of that enlightenment which may be given to the ordained priests of the Church.
The Council has therefore distinguished itself into two bodies for the fulfillment of these two functions. It has formed one body which is to be known as The International Interior Council, and it has formed another body which is to be known as the International Council of Priests.
The International Interior Council is at present to be constituted of the following men: Harry Barnitz, H.D.G. Groeneveld, J.D. Odhner, Philip Odhner, Theodore Pitcairn, James Wang Sum, Anton Zelling. The function of this Council shall be to consider the internal or universa1 things of the Word, of Doctrine, and of the Church, which can be of use for the development of the Church. The conclusions of this Council shall be brought to the International Council of Priests for the interior direction of the Church. In relation to the finances of the Church, the Interior Council shall appoint a representative to act in conjunction with the President of the Corporation as a Joint Finance Committee.
The International Council of Priests shall have the function of governing the ecclesiastical affairs of the Church. It is for the present constituted of Revs. Harry Barnitz, J.D. Odhner, Philip Odhner, James Wang Sum and Theodore Pitcairn. The episcopal authority shall rest with the International Council of Priests in all ecclesiastical matters in which unanimity exists among its own members. In all other cases this authority shall remain for the present with the Interior Council.
In order to facilitate the work of the priesthood it has been decided that the President of the International Council of Priests shall be vested with the authority to act and to decide for and on behalf of the Council in matters demanding immediate attention, being responsible 10 the Council for all actions and decisions taken. The President shall oversee the work of the priesthood in all lands until such time as there may be dioceses having their own bishops. The aim of the overseeing shall be to further both the unity of the priests’ work with the Doctrine of the Church and the Laws of the Priesthood, and the filling of the priestly order in all lands. In pursuance of this aim the President may meet with the pastors of the Societies and their Councils. Local problems may be brought to him for consideration and possible solution. Since the President acts for the International Council of Priests, it is clear that he shall not extend his authority into matters normally lying outside the direct jurisdiction of that Council. Nevertheless it is appropriate to his office to give counsel and support to the individual priests of the Church in their work. In all cases he shall endeavour to observe and apply the principle of consultation and unanimity. The President shall hold office until the next meeting of the Council, at which time the nature and period of this office shall be further considered. The President shall be given a different stole, which shall be worn by him when performing inaugurations into the Priesthood, or on other occasions when it may be desirable for him to represent the Episcopal Office, as may from time to lime be decided upon by the International Council of Priests.
(This was the last Statement by the Provisional International Council of Priests. It was approved by Assemblies of the Church held in America and in Holland.)