Catacomb Pact

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
So-called catacomb basilica above the Domitilla catacombs, where the catacomb pact was signed in 1965

Catacomb Pact is a voluntary commitment to a simple lifestyle and service to the poor, signed by a group of bishops on November 16, 1965, during the Second Vatican Council , in the Basilica of Saints Nereus and Achilles above the Domitilla Catacombs in Rome .


A few weeks before the end of the council, 40 council fathers from all over the world celebrated the Eucharist together and at the end of the mass celebrated the pact named after the place of the event. Two Germans were among the first to sign: Julius Angerhausen (1911–1990), auxiliary bishop in Essen , and Hugo Aufderbeck (1909–1981), auxiliary bishop in Erfurt . Later 500 other bishops from around the world joined this pact.

The main initiators of the group are Hélder Câmara , Bishop Guy-Marie-Joseph Riobé of Orléans and Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro .

According to Thomas Fornet-Ponse, the pact took up the following impulses:

  • the motto of John XXIII. of a “church of the poor”: “The church as what it is and wants to be, [prove to be] the church of all, especially the church of the poor."
  • the call from Nazareth by Father Paul Gauthier, a labor priest in Nazareth , and his “Brotherhood of the Companions of the Carpenter Jesus of Nazareth” with the heading Jesus, the Church and the poor . Maximos V. Hakim , Bishop (since 1964 Archbishop) of the Melkite Church in Nazareth, and the Belgian Bishop Charles-Marie Himmer von Tournai distributed this appeal to numerous fellow bishops. P. Gauthier, Bishop Maximos and Bishop Himmer advocated that "the mystery of Christ in the arms ... should not be a topic of the council among others, but ... should become the central question".
  • the study by Yves Congar OP For a Serving and Poor Church .

In a first-person message, the bishops adopted the example of Jesus and his mission to his disciples . The signatories noted that despite individual successes, their commitment to a church for the poor would not be realized across the church. So they decided to lead by example themselves.

According to Luigi Bettazzi , the last living first signatory of the pact, Pope Francis implements the ideas of the catacomb pact through his lifestyle and administration.

The Catacomb Pact was renewed in the Catacomb Pact for the Common House, which was adopted by more than 40 bishops from Amazonia on October 27, 2019 as part of the Amazon Synod .

Essential points of the pact

  • We want to live like the people around us, with a view to housing, food and transport.
  • We refrain from appearing as rich in our official attire.
  • We don't want to own real estate or furniture.
  • We refuse to be addressed with titles.
  • We will avoid any impression that we favor the rich and powerful.
  • We want to turn to the disadvantaged and underdeveloped above all.
  • Our social works, which we support, should be based on love and justice and focus on women and men alike.
  • We want to enforce the same through our efforts among those responsible in our governments.

be right

"In the current situation of the Church, the pact acts like a subversive legacy of the Second Vatican Council."


The 13 voluntary commitments were first published by the French daily Le Monde on December 9, 1965, the day after the concluding ceremony . They were first made known in German in 1969 in a biography by Camilo Torres published in East Berlin .

Known first signatories

Documents on the first signatories can be found in the estate of Bishop Charles-Marie Himmer. Initial signatories include:

Church of the Poor

The following bishops also worked in the group of bishops “Opus Angeli”, “Church of the Poor”, but there is no evidence (yet) of their signature:

  • Manuel Larraín Errázuriz, Bishop of Talca, Chile and President of CELAM (Latin American Bishops' Conference)
  • Marcos G. Mc.Grat, Bishop of Santiago de Veraguas, Pan-American Secretary of CELAM
  • Leonidas Proaño , Bishop of Ríobamba, Ecuador
  • Alberto Devoto, Bishop of Goya, Argentina
  • Vicente F. Zazpe, Archbishop of Sta. Fe, Argentina
  • J. José Iriarte, Bishop of Reconguista, Argentina
  • Alfredo Viola, Bishop of Salta, Uruguay
  • Tulio Botero Salazar, Archbishop of Medellín, Colombia
  • Raúl Zambrano Camader, Bishop of Facatativá, Colombia
  • Sergio Méndez Arceo , Bishop of Cuernavaca, Mexico
  • Samuel Ruiz García , Bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico

Catacomb Basilica

Catacomb basilica above the original graves of St. Nereus and Achilles in the Domitilla catacombs
Basilica of Santi Nereo e Achilleo at the Baths of Caracalla

The basilica of Saints Nereus and Achilles was built over the Domitilla catacombs around 390 under Pope Siricius (384–399) in such a way that half of the church was relocated below the surface of the earth, around the altar immediately above the graves of the around 295 To be able to erect imperial soldiers Nereus and Achilles who died as martyrs . This design is known as the catacomb basilica or the coemeterial basilica ( basilica ad corpus ). The church building, which fell into disrepair in the 9th century, was rediscovered in 1874, the remains excavated and the building was rebuilt according to old plans. The catacomb basilica must not be confused with the church of the same name, Santi Nereo e Achilleo , near the Caracalla baths , to which the relics of the church patrons and other saints were transferred in the 6th century for security reasons.

Web links


  • The thirteen voluntary commitments of unnamed bishops at the Second Vatican Council. In: Concilium. Vol. 13, Issue 4, 1977, ISSN  0588-9804 , pp. 262-263, (full text of the pact in German translation).
  • Norbert Arntz : "For a serving and poor church". The Catacomb Pact as a subversive legacy of Vatican II. In: Gottfried Bitter, Martina Blasberg-Kuhnke (Hrsg.): Religion and education in church and society. For Norbert Mette (= studies on theology and practice of pastoral care. Vol. 86). Echter, Würzburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-429-03424-5 , pp. 297-307.
  • Norbert Arntz: The catacomb pact. For a serving and poor church. Topos Taschenbuch 1037, Kevelaer 2015, ISBN 978-3-8367-1037-4
  • Norbert Copray : The forgotten catacomb pact. Today the Church of Rome no longer fights for but against the poor. In: Publik-Forum , issue 22, from November 23, 2012, available online .
  • Luigi Bettazzi : The Second Vatican Council. Rebooting the Church from the roots of faith. Translation from the Italian by Barbara Häußler. Echter, Würzburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-429-03531-0 .
  • Franz Jussen: In pact with the poor. It's a kind of vow: 50 years ago, 40 Council Fathers promised to lead a simple life, renounce insignia of power and make a pact with the poor. What remains of the idea of ​​the legendary Catacomb Pact in the underworld of Rome? In: continents . One World. One magazine. 6/2015, pp. 32-34.
  • Thomas Fornet-Ponse: For a poor church! The catacomb pact of 1965 as an example of evacuation. In: Voices of the Time . Issue 10, 2012, pp. 651–661, available online .
  • Stefan Silber : Church that goes out of itself. On the way of pastoral conversion , Würzburg: Echter 2018, pp. 93–162.
  • Norbert Arntz / Philipp Geitzhaus / Julia Lis (eds.): Remembering and renewing. Provocation from the catacombs (Edition-ITP-Kompass 22), Münster: ITP 2018.

Individual evidence

  1. Giancarlo Collet : "Church of the Poor" - a lasting challenge . In: DRS.GLOBAL - from the world church work of the Rottenburg-Stuttgart diocese , issue July 2013, pp. 1–2 (available online at ).
  2. Joseph Famarée: bishops and dioceses . In: Giuseppe Alberigo , Klaus Wittstadt (ed.): History of the Second Vatican Council. Vol. 3: The mature council. Second session and session (September 1963 to September 1964) . Matthias Grünewald Verlag, Mainz 2002. pp. 139–222, there chap. 6.2: The Group “Jesus, the Church and the Poor,” pp. 194–195.
  3. ^ Raphael Rauch: The sad topicality of the Catacomb Pact of Vienna . In: Die Welt, November 14, 2013.
  4. Sebastian Pittl: The catacomb pact - the forgotten legacy of Vatican II. Catholic Academic Association of the Archdiocese of Vienna , accessed on October 21, 2012 .
  5. Media and Communication Unit : Fifty Years of the Council. (PDF, 139 KB) Archdiocese of Munich and Freising , archived from the original on July 28, 2013 ; Retrieved October 21, 2012 .
  6. Project Group Council wished pro-: Katakombenpakt: "For a serving and poor Church." Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität , October 11, 2012, accessed on October 21, 2012 .
  7. Radio address of September 11, 1962, full text in: Herder Korrespondenz , Jg. 17 (1962/1963), pp. 43-46.
  8. Hilari Raguer: The earliest stamp of the assembly . In: Giuseppe Alberigo, Klaus Wittstadt (ed.): History of the Second Vatican Council. Vol. 2: The Council on the way to itself. First session and Intersessio (October 1962 to September 1963) . Matthias Grünewald Verlag, Mainz 2000. pp. 201-272, there chap. 3.2: The Church of the Poor Group , pp. 237–241.
  9. ^ Normann Tanner: Church in the world: Ecclesia ad extra . In: Giuseppe Alberigo, Günther Wassilowsky (ed.): History of the Second Vatican Council. Vol. 4: The Church as a Community. Third session and Intersessio (September 1964 to September 1965) . Matthias Grünewald Verlag, Ostfildern 2006. pp. 313–448, there: The group “Church of the Poor” and Lercaro's report on poverty , pp. 441–448, especially p. 445, note 181.
  10. Poor little bishop , , November 16, 2015
  11. ^ Amazonian bishops conclude new catacomb pact , , October 20, 2019
  12. ^ Circular letter of the "Platform Theology of Liberation", No. 12, November 2010 ( ISSN  2220-0711 )
  13. ^ Germán Guzmán Campos: Camilo Torres. Personality and decision . Union Verlag, Berlin 1969. pp. 125–128.
  14. ^ Archives de l ' Université catholique de Louvain , Ch.-M. Himmer , in it: Concile Vatican II, le groupe «Jésus, l'Église et les pauvres» .
  15. ^ Vera Krause: Church base communities in Latin America. Basic article on the Adveniat campaign 2012 . Essen 2012, p. 15, footnote 37 (can be viewed online at - ( Memento of the original dated August 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  16. a b Catacomb Pact: “For a serving and poor church” (Introduction and translation from Spanish: Norbert Arntz) on , accessed on April 2, 2016
  17. Hans Georg Wehrens: Rome - The Christian Sacred Buildings from the 4th to the 9th Century - Ein Vademecum , Freiburg 2nd edition, 2017, p. 164f. with floor plan