An inventory of Archbishop Leo Binz - Vatican Council II Collection at The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives
Archbishop Leo Binz was born in Stockton, Illinois on October 31, 1900. Along with two siblings, he grew up on a farm as the son of Michael and Thecla Binz. It appeared as if Leo knew his vocation from an early age, and even declared "I'm going to be a bishop!" after he made his confirmation. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. Binz then went on to study at the Sulpician Seminary in Washington, D.C., and then the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In 1924, he was ordained a priest for the diocese of Rockford. Additionally in 1924, Binz earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Propaganda University, and a Doctorate of Philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1926. Following his extensive academic career, Binz helped to build the first cathedral in Winona, Minnesota, as well as the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary. He was particularly committed to developing Catholic education in this area. In 1943, he became a member of the American Catholic Historical Association, which connected him with others who would eventually join him in Rome for the Second Vatican Council. Binz spent part of the 1950s in Rome, and was present in 1950 when Pope Pius XII defined the doctrine on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, along with 560 other bishops and archbishops. In 1953, Binz also attended the inauguration for the new North American College in Rome, as an alumnus. Binz was also involved with the National Council of Catholic Men and gave a speech on "The Role of the Laity in the Church" at the State Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1958.
But despite his travels to Rome, he did not neglect his Episcopal duties in the United States. After he was consecrated as bishop in 1942, Binz served as Archbishop of Dubuque from 1954 until 1961. At that point, he was reassigned to the Archdiocese of Saint Paul (which expanded to include Minneapolis in 1966). He was installed as the fifth Archbishop of St. Paul on April 28th, 1962, which marked the beginning of the peak of his career.
Archbishop Binz was a participant in the Second Session of the Second Vatican Council, and, most notably, was part of the 60th General Congregation on November 5, 1963: the Commission for Bishops and the Government of Diocese. The other members of this commission included: Peter Cardinal Doi, Archbishop of Tokyo; Archbishop Francesco Carpino, Assessor of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation; Archbishop Victor Bazin, M.E.P., of Rangoon, Burma; Syrian Rite Archbishop Denys Hayek of Aleppo, Syria; Coadjutor Archbishop Angelo Fernandes of Delhi, India; Archbishop Jerome Rakotomalala of Tananarive, Malagasy Republic; Auxiliary Bishop Norciso Jubany Arnau of Barcelona, Spain; and Bishop Luigi Carli of Segni, Italy.
Given the issues of conciliarism that arose in the fifteenth century during the medieval crisis of the papacy, which culminated with the Council of Constance, the issue of collegiality was a point of contention in this session at the Vatican Council. After the session concluded, Binz called the schema, as "an unhappy schema with no introduction, no connecting link and no real conclusion." The major point of contention was whether powers then exercised solely by the Roman Curia should be returned to diocesan bishops. Throughout the Second Vatican Council, there were a series of emendations concerning this commission - it appeared as if no one could ever be entirely satisfied with the conclusions of this commission. This collection does not indicate that Binz had a major voice within the commission, but took on a more passive role than some of his colleagues. The number of American bishops was second only to that of the Italians, but the Americans were not considered an especially influential group by the council's progressives.
After his experience in Rome, Binz returned to St. Paul to promote lay activity within his diocese. This included fraternal societies, working with the Catholic Charities organization, and the annual May Day rosary procession. He, along with New York Cardinal Francis Spellman, was responsible for cancelling a four-part television series in January 1965 on Catholics and contraception (produced by the National Council of Catholic Men). This was part in to appease the pope's request to end all public discussion among Catholics concerning issues of birth control. As Binz's health deteriorated, he requested a coadjutor. In 1967, Archbishop Byrne was appointed to this position, and he took on the majority of the administrative functions of the archdiocese. However, Byrne died in 1974, and Binz requested to resign. Pope Paul VI accepted Archbishop Binz's resignation on May 25, 1975. He died in Maywood, Illinois on October 9, 1979 and was succeeded by Archbishop John Robert Roach.
The Archbishop Leo Binz - Vatican II collection consists of the documents he acquired during the preparation for and convening of the Second Vatican Council, 1964-1965. The majority of these documents are typed and non-published. The documents in this collection primarily are affiliated with the Commission for Bishops and the Government of Diocese, which Binz served on this commission. The series also includes some of the questions that were circulated to the clergy prior to the Council. Schemas were issued beforehand, but with varying degrees of advanced notice. This collection also includes some of the emendations and changes made to the schemata as the Commission worked through this challenging issue, as well as commentaries, observations, voting results, and appendices.
The Second Vatican Council was criticized for its lack of discussion on communism, particularly during the commission of "The Church in the Modern World." A well-known petition was signed by over 300 priests in 1965 in a plea to discuss the issue of communism at the Second Vatican Council, but with no success. However, the Binz collection includes a set of documents from 1961-1962 listed "sub strictissimo secreto" (under the strictest secrecy) that address the issue of communism. There is no indication of how many people were involved with assembling these statements. The documents address the great dangers of communism (and refer to it as the Goliath to the Church's David), but the schema from November 22, 1961 demonstrates the conflict that arose among those involved: some wanted to redact the schema, others wanted it omitted entirely. They determined that negative anti-communism propaganda was not the solution. Additionally, they suggested the following potential pastoral plans: a) to not oppress the countries impacted by communism b) to re-educate the Christian faithful in communist areas c) and to favor a "silent Church," meaning to maintain a neutral position on the matter.
There is a set of documents marked by Binz as "non locutus," meaning "not mentioned" or circulated. Prior to accession, they were catalogued according to an "E" series system that matches Binz's handwriting. These documents have been catalogued according to that series, categorized in sets of one hundred. Not all documents in each hundred series are present in this collection. Additionally, there is a second set of documents marked by Binz "locutus," meaning mentioned. These address topics that were openly discussed at the commission, and some of the documents identify some of the people specifically involved in that discussion. These documents have been filed according to the date they were discussed, all in early November, 1963, which was when the Commission met.
Almost the entire collection is written in Latin. There are a few documents in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and these are part of larger series of documents regarding various schemata of the Commission.
The Archbishop Leo Binz Collection consists of 1 series.
The American participants who attended the Second Vatican Council met shortly before its conclusion in 1965 at the North American College in Rome. In this meeting, presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ritter, they authorized a centralized depository. These papers and publications were then shipped to CUA in 1971. The Binz papers were then created as a separate collection in February 2009.
Processing completed in November 2011 by Vanessa Taylor. EAD markup completed in November 2011 by Vanessa Taylor.
The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives also contains:
At other institutions:
Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Archives. The papers are categorized by general subject, and major sub-categories of Ordination, Publications, Vatican II, Organizations and Clubs, and Correspondence.
University of Notre Dame Archives, General Collection
This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Archbishop Leo Binz
Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
Vatican Council II, 1962-1965
St. Paul, Minnesota
Vatican Council II, 1962-1965: Commission for Bishops and the Government of Diocese
Binz, Leo and Pope Paul VI. The church in the world: inaugural address of Pope Paul VI at the Second Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. St. Paul, MN: North Central Pub. Co., 1963.
Rynne, Xavier. The second session: the debates and decrees of Vatican Council II, September 29 to December 4, 1963. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1964.
Rynne, Xavier. Vatican Council II. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999.
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