Global Council Network

The Catacomb Pact: against pomp and ceremony in the Church

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 We, bishops gathered in the Second Vatican Council, made aware of the deficiencies of our lives of poverty according to the Gospel; encouraged by each other; in an initiative in which each one wishes to avoid singularity and presumption; united with all our brothers in the Episcopate; counting above all on the grace and strength of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the prayers of the faithful and the priests of our respective dioceses; placing ourselves in thought and prayer before the Trinity, before the Church of Christ and before the priests and faithful of our dioceses; humbly conscious of our weakness, but also with all the determination and strength which God wishes to give us as grace, commit ourselves to the following:

On November 16, 1965, a few days before the Council ended, forty Council Fathers celebrated Eucharist in the Roman Catacombs of Domitilla. There they signed the Alliance of the Catacombs. Dom Hélder Câmara, whose 100th birthday is being celebrated this year, was one of the prime movers in this prophetic group. In 13 points, the Alliance insists on the Evangelical poverty of the Church: without honorific titles, without privileges, and without worldly ostentation. It insists on collegiality and on co-responsibility in the Church as People of God. It calls for openness to the world and brotherly and sisterly welcome.

Source: Pedro Casaldáliga - Circular 2009

  1. We will seek to live according to the ordinary manner of our people, regarding habitation, food, means of transport and all which springs from this. Cf. Mt 5,3; 6,33s; 8,20.
  2. We definitively renounce the appearance and reality of riches, especially regarding to our manner of dress (rich material, loud colours) and symbols made of precious materials (they should in reality be evangelical signs). Cf. Mc 6,9; Mt 10,9s; At 3,6. Neither gold nor silver.
  3. We will not possess real estate, goods, bank accounts etc. in our own names; if it should be necessary to have them, we will place everything in the name of the diocese, or of charitable and social works. Cf. Mt 6,19-21; Lc 12,33s.
  4. Whenever possible, we will entrust the financial and material administration in our dioceses to a commission of competent laity, conscious of their apostolic rôle, so that we may become less administrators and more pastors and apostles. Cf. Mt 10,8; At. 6,1-7.
  5. We refuse to be addressed, orally or in writing, by names or titles which signify prestige and power (Eminence, Excellency, Monsignor...). We prefer to be called by the evangelical title of Father. Cf. Mt 20,25-28; 23,6-11; Jn 13,12-15.
  6. In our behaviour and social relations, we will avoid anything which may seem to confer priviledges, priority or any preference for the rich and powerful (such as: banquets, offered or accepted, class distinction during religious services. Cf. Lc 13,12-14; 1Cor 9,14-19.)
  7. In the same way we will avoid the fostering or pampering of the vanity of anyone, in order to seeking reward or solicit donations, or for any reason whatsoever. We will invite our faithful to consider their donations as a normal participation in the cult, the apostolate and social action. Cf. Mt 6,2-4; Lc 15,9-13; 2Cor 12,4.
  8. We will dedicate whatever is necessary of our time, reflection, heart, means etc to the apostolic and pastoral service of people and groups of workers and of the economically weak and underdeveloped, without prejudice to the other people and groups in the diocese. We will support those laity, religious, deacons and priests who the Lord calls to evangelize the poor and the workers, sharing the work and life of labourers. Cf. Lc 4,18s; Mc 6,4; Mt 11,4s; At 18,3s; 20,33-35; 1Cor 4,12 e 9,1-27.
  9. Conscious of the demands of justice and charity, and their mutual relationship, we will seek to transform assistential activites into social works based on justice and charity, which take into account all that this requires, as a humble service of the competent public organs. Cf. Mt 25,31-46; Lc 13,12-14 e 33s.
  10. We will do our utmost so that those responsible for our government and for our public services make, and put into practice, laws, structures and social institutions required by justice and charity, equality and the harmonic and holistic development of all men and women, and by this means bring about the advent of another social order, worthy of the sons and daughters of mankind and of God. Cf. At. 2,44s; 4,32-35; 5,4; 2Cor 8 e 9 ; 1Tim 5, 16.
  11. Believing the collegiality of the bishops to be of the utmost evangelical importance in facing the burden of human masses in a state of physical, cultural and moral misery – two thirds of humanity – we commit ourselves:
    • to participate, according to our means, in the urgent investments of the episcopates of poor nations;
    • to demand that the plans of international organizations, but witnessing to the Gospel, as Pope Paul VI did in the UNO, adopt economic and cultural structures which no longer manufacture proletarian nations in an ever richer world, but which will permit the poor masses to overcome their misery.
  12. We commit ourselves to share, in pastoral charity, our lives with our brothers and sisters in Christ, priests, religious and laity, so that our ministry constitute a true service; so,
    • we will really try to “revise our lives” with them;
    • we will find collaborators who will be more animators according to the Spirit, rather then according to the chiefs of this world;
    • we will seek to be more humanly present, more welcoming...;
    • we will show ourselves to be open to all, whatever their religion. Cf. Mc 8,34s; At 6,1-7; 1Tim 3,8-10.
  13. On returning to our respective dioceses, we will make this resolution known to our people, asking them to help us by their understanding, collaboration and prayers.


  1. KLOPPENBURG, Boaventura (org.). Concílio Vaticano II. Vol. V, Quarta Sessão. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1966, 526-528.


Signatories (with thanks to )

Mgrs. Charles M. Himmer, bishop of Tournai, Belgium

Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife, Brasil

Dom Antonio Fragoso, Bishop of Crateus, Brasil
Dom Francisco Austregésilo de Mesquita Filho, Bishop of Afogados de Ing., Brasil
Dom Joao Batista de Mota e Alburquerque, Archbishop of Vitoria, Brasil
Dom Luiz Fernández, Auxiliary Bishop of Vitoria, Brasil
Dom Jorge Marcos de Oliveira, Bishop of De Santo André, Brasil
Dom Henrique Golland Trindate O.F.M., Archbishop of Botucatu, Brasil
Dom José M. Pires, Archbishop of Paraiba, Brasil
Dom Cándido Padín, Bishop of Lorena, Brasil
Mgrs. Georges Mercier, Bishop of Laghouat, Sahara, Africa
Mgrs. Hakim, Melkite Bishop of Nazareth, Israel
Mgrs. Hadad, auxiliary Melkite Bishop of Beirut, Líbanon
Mgrs. Gérard Mario Coderre, Bishop of S. Jean, Quebec, Canada
Mgrs. Rafael González, Auxiliary Bishop of Valencia, Spain
Mgrs. Julius Angerhausen, Auxiliary Bishop of Essen, Germany
Mgrs. Guy Marie Riobé, Bishop of Orléans, France
Mgrs. Gerard M. Huyghe, Bishop of Arras, France
Mgrs. Adrien Gand, Auxiliary Bishop of Lille, France
Mgrs. Luigi Betazzi, Auxiliary Bishop of Bologna, Italy
Mgrs. Bernard Yago, Archbishop of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Africa
Mgrs. Joseph Blomjous, Bishop of Mwanza, Tanzania, Africa (of Dutch origin)
Mgrs. Charles Joseph de Melckebeke (expulsed from China, since then living in Singapore, Apostolic Visitor
                of the Chinese Catholics outside China, form Belgian origin)


Also Bishops from Vietnam and Indonesia signed the Pact


In the Episcopal groups of Opus Angeli, Church of the Poor, the following Bishops were active but it is not sure that that they signed during the Eucharist:

Mgrs. Manuel Larraín, Bishop of Talva, Chile, President of CELAM

Mgrs. Marcos G, McGrath, Bishop of Santiago de Veraguas, Panama, Secretary of CELAM

Mgrs. Leonidas Proaño, Bishop of Ríobamba, Ecuador
Mgrs. Alberto Devoto,Bishop of Goya, Argentina
Mgrs. Vicente F. Zazpe, Archbishop of Sta. Fe, Argentina
Mgrs. J. José Iriarte, Bishop of Reconguista, Argentina
Mgrs. Alfredo Viola, Bishop of Salta, Uruguay
Mgrs. Tulio Botero Salazar, Archbishop of Medellín, Colombia
Mgrs. Raúl Zambrano, Bishop of Facatativá, Colombia
And later Dom Sergio Méndez Arceo and Dom Samuel Ruíz from México