'The Pact of the Catacombs - A Light from the Shadows'
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. The only place we have found its complete text transcribed is in the Chronicle of Vatican II by the Franciscan bishop Boaventura Kloppenburg. He titled the document Pact of the Servant and Poor Church. 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. Later on, Cardinal Roger Etchagaray, who served as honorary president of the Pontifical Council, Justice and Peace, also signed it.