Rorate Caeli

Recent papal pronouncements
on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II

1. General Audience (October 10, 2012)

2. L'Osservatore Romano (October 10-11, 2012): special text (preface to collection of Fr. Joseph Ratzinger's Council documents)

3. Homily on the opening mass of the "Year of Faith" (October 11, 2012)

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1. General Audience (October 10, 2012)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

we are on the eve of the day when we will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II and the beginning of the Year of Faith. With this Catechesis I would like to begin to reflect - with some brief thoughts – on the great ecclesial event that was the Council, an event of which I was a direct witness. It, so to speak, appears to us like a giant fresco, painted in its great diversity and variety of elements, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And just like before a great work of art, still today we continue to grasp that moment of grace, that extraordinary richness, to rediscover particular passages, fragments, pieces.

Blessed John Paul II, on the threshold of the third millennium, wrote: "I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning" (Apostolic Letter. NMI, 57). I think this is telling. The documents of the Second Vatican Council, to which we must return freeing them from a mass of publications that often instead of making them known, have hidden them, are, for our time, a compass that allows the ship of the Church to set sail, in midst of storms or calm and quiet waters, to navigate safely and reach port.

I remember I was a young professor of fundamental theology at the University of Bonn at that time, and it was the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Frings, a human and priestly point of reference for me, who took me with him to be his consultant theologian, later I was also appointed a council expert. It was a unique experience for me, after all the fervor and enthusiasm of preparation, I could see a living Church - almost three thousand Council Fathers from all parts of the world gathered under the guidance of the Successor of the Apostle Peter - at the school of the Holy Spirit, the true driving force of the Council. Rarely in history have we been able, as then, to almost concretely "touch" the universality of the Church at a time of great accomplishment of its mission to bring the Gospel to all ages and to the ends of the earth. These days, if you see once again the images of the opening of this great Gathering, on television or other media, you too will be able to feel the joy, hope and encouragement taking part in this event of light gave to all of us, a light which radiates still today.

In the history of the Church, as I think you know, various councils have preceded the Second Vatican Council. Usually these large ecclesial assemblies were convened to define key elements of the faith, especially to correct errors that put her in danger. We think of the Council of Nicaea in 325, to counter the Arian heresy and to emphasize the divinity of Jesus, as the only Son of God the Father, or that of Ephesus in 431, which defined Mary as the Mother of God; the Council of Chalcedon, in 451, which affirmed the one person of Christ in two natures, the divine and the human person. Closer to our time, we have the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, which clarified the essential points of Catholic doctrine before the Protestant Reformation, or Vatican I, which began to reflect on various issues, but had time to produce only two documents, one on knowledge of God, revelation, faith and relationships with reason and one on the primacy and infallibility of the Pope, because it was interrupted by the occupation of Rome in September 1870.

If we look at the Second Vatican Council, we can see that at that moment in the journey of the Church there were no particular errors of faith to correct or condemn, nor were there specific issues of doctrine or discipline to be clarified. Thus we can understand the surprise of the small group of cardinals in the chapter house of the Benedictine monastery of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where, on January 25, 1959, Blessed John XXIII announced the diocesan Synod for Rome and the Council for the Universal Church. The first question he asked himself in preparing for this great event was how to start it, what specific task to assign to it. Blessed John XXIII, in his opening speech, on October 11, fifty years ago, gave a general indication: faith had to speak in a "renewed", more incisive way - because the world was rapidly changing – while keeping its perennial contents, without giving in or compromise. The Pope wanted the Church to reflect on her faith, on the truths that guide her. But this serious, in-depth reflection on faith, had to outline the relationship between the Church and the modern age in a new way, between Christianity and some essential elements of modern thought, not to conform itself to it, but to present to our world, which tends to move away from God, the need of the Gospel in all its grandeur and in all its purity (cf. Address to the Roman Curia for Christmas greetings, December 22, 2005). The Servant of God Paul VI indicated this very well in his homily at the end of the last session of the Council - December 7, 1965 – with words that still today are most relevant, when he affirmed that in order to properly asses this event, and I quote, "it is necessary to remember the time in which it was realized. In fact, the Pope says, it took place at a time in which, everyone admits man is orientated toward the conquest of the kingdom of earth rather than of that of heaven; a time in which forgetfulness of God has become habitual, and seems, quite wrongly, to be prompted by the progress of science; a time in which the fundamental act of the human person, more conscious now of himself and of his liberty, tends to pronounce in favor of his own absolute autonomy, in emancipation from every transcendent law; a time in which secularism seems the legitimate consequence of modern thought and the highest wisdom in the temporal ordering of society;... it was at such a time as this that our council was held to the honor of God, in the name of Christ and under the impulse of the Spirit". Thus said Paul VI. He concluded by indicating in the question of God the central focus of the Council, that God, I quote again, that " He is real, He lives, a personal, provident God, infinitely good; and not only good in Himself, but also immeasurably good to us. He will be recognized as Our Creator, our truth, our happiness; so much so that the effort to look on Him, and to center our heart in Him which we call contemplation, is the highest, the most perfect act of the spirit, the act which even today can and must be at the apex of all human activity"(AAS 58 [1966], 52-53). We can see how the time in which we live continues to be marked by forgetfulness and deafness towards God. I think, then, that we must learn the simplest and most basic lesson of the Council, namely that Christianity in its essence consists in faith in God, which is love of the Trinity, and in the encounter, both personal and community, with Christ who directs and guides life: from which everything else follows. The important thing today, just as it was the desire of the Council Fathers, is that we can once again see - clearly - that God is present, He takes care of us, He answers us. And that, instead, when there is no faith in God, what is essential collapses, because man loses his profound dignity and that which makes his humanity great, against all reductionism. The Council reminds us that the Church, in all its components, has the duty, the mandate to transmit the Word of God that saves, so that the Divine call, which contains our eternal blessing, can be heard and welcomed.

Looking in this light at the richness contained in the documents of Vatican II, I would like to mention the four constitutions, almost like the four points of a compass that can guide us. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium tells us how to worship in the Church at the beginning is adoration, there is God, there is the centrality of the mystery of Christ's presence. And the Church, the Body of Christ and a pilgrim people in all ages, has the fundamental task to glorify God, as expressed by the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium. The third document which I would like to mention is the Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum: the living Word of God calls the Church and vivifies her along the journey through history. And the way in which the Church brings the light she has received from God the whole world so He may be glorified, is the underlying theme of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes.

The Second Vatican Council is a strong call for us to rediscover the beauty of our faith every day, to know nourish a deeper understanding of it, a more intense relationship with the Lord, to truly live our Christian vocation. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the whole Church, help us to realize and to fulfil all that the Council Fathers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, guarded in their heart: the desire that all may know the Gospel and meet the Lord Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thank you.

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It was a splendid day on 11 October 1962 when the Second Vatican Council opened with the solemn procession into St Peter’s Basilica in Rome of more than two thousand Council Fathers. In 1931 Pius XI had dedicated this day to the feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, mindful that 1,500 years earlier, in 431, the Council of Ephesus had solemnly recognized this title for Mary in order to express God’s indissoluble union with man in Christ. Pope John XXIII had chosen this day for the beginning of the Council so as to entrust the great ecclesial assembly, which he had convoked, to the motherly goodness of Mary and to anchor the Council’s work firmly in the mystery of Jesus Christ. It was impressive to see in the entrance procession bishops from all over the world, from all peoples and all races: an image of the Church of Jesus Christ which embraces the whole world, in which the peoples of the earth know they are united in his peace.

It was a moment of extraordinary expectation. Great things were about to happen. The previous Councils had almost always been convoked for a precise question to which they were to provide an answer. This time there was no specific problem to resolve. But precisely because of this, a general sense of expectation hovered in the air: Christianity, which had built and formed the Western world, seemed more and more to be losing its power to shape society. It appeared weary and it looked as if the future would be determined by other spiritual forces. The sense of this loss of the present on the part of Christianity, and of the task following on from that, was well summed up in the word “aggiornamento” (updating). Christianity must be in the present if it is to be able to form the future. So that it might once again be a force to shape the future, John XXIII had convoked the Council without indicating to it any specific problems or programmes. This was the greatness and at the same time the difficulty of the task that was set before the ecclesial assembly.

The various episcopates undoubtedly approached the great event with different ideas. Some of them arrived rather with an attitude of expectation regarding the programme that was to be developed. It was the episcopates of Central Europe – Belgium, France and Germany – that came with the clearest ideas. In matters of detail, they stressed completely different aspects, yet they had common priorities. A fundamental theme was ecclesiology, that needed to be studied in greater depth from a Trinitarian and sacramental viewpoint and in connection with salvation history; then there was a need to amplify the doctrine of primacy from the First Vatican Council by giving greater weight to the episcopal ministry. An important theme for the episcopates of Central Europe was liturgical renewal, which Pius XII had already started to implement. Another central aspect, especially for the German episcopate, was ecumenism: the shared experience of Nazi persecution had brought Protestant and Catholic Christians closer together; this now had to happen at the level of the whole Church, and to be developed further. Then there was also the group of themes: Revelation – Scripture – Tradition – Magisterium. For the French, the subject of the relationship between the Church and the modern world came increasingly to the fore – in other words the work of the so-called “Schema XIII”, from which the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World later emerged. This point touches on the real expectations of the Council. The Church, which during the Baroque era was still, in a broad sense, shaping the world, had from the nineteenth century onwards visibly entered into a negative relationship with the modern era, which had only then properly begun. Did it have to remain so? Could the Church not take a positive step into the new era? Behind the vague expression “today’s world” lies the question of the relationship with the modern era. To clarify this, it would have been necessary to define more clearly the essential features that constitute the modern era. “Schema XIII” did not succeed in doing this. Although the Pastoral Constitution expressed many important elements for an understanding of the “world” and made significant contributions to the question of Christian ethics, it failed to offer substantial clarification on this point.

Unexpectedly, the encounter with the great themes of the modern epoch did not happen in the great Pastoral Constitution, but instead in two minor documents, whose importance has only gradually come to light in the context of the reception of the Council. First, there is the Declaration on Religious Liberty, which was urgently requested, and also drafted, by the American Bishops in particular. With developments in philosophical thought and in ways of understanding the modern State, the doctrine of tolerance, as worked out in detail by Pius XII, no longer seemed sufficient. At stake was the freedom to choose and practise religion and the freedom to change it, as fundamental human rights and freedoms. Given its inner foundation, such a concept could not be foreign to the Christian faith, which had come into being claiming that the State could neither decide on the truth nor prescribe any kind of worship. The Christian faith demanded freedom of religious belief and freedom of religious practice in worship, without thereby violating the law of the State in its internal ordering; Christians prayed for the emperor, but did not worship him. To this extent, it can be said that Christianity, at its birth, brought the principle of religious freedom into the world. Yet the interpretation of this right to freedom in the context of modern thought was not easy, since it could seem as if the modern version of religious freedom presupposed the inaccessibility of the truth to man and so, perforce, shifted religion into the sphere of the subjective. It was certainly providential that thirteen years after the conclusion of the Council, Pope John Paul II arrived from a country in which freedom of religion had been denied by Marxism, in other words by a particular form of modern philosophy of the State. The Pope had come, as it were, from a situation resembling that of the early Church, so that the inner orientation of the faith towards the theme of freedom, and especially freedom of religion and worship, became visible once more.

The second document that was to prove important for the Church’s encounter with the modern age came into being almost by chance and it developed in various phases. I am referring to the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. At the outset the intention was to draft a declaration on relations between the Church and Judaism, a text that had become intrinsically necessary after the horrors of the Shoah. The Council Fathers from Arab countries were not opposed to such a text, but they explained that if there were an intention to speak of Judaism, then there should also be some words on Islam. How right they were, we in the West have only gradually come to understand. Lastly the realization grew that it was also right to speak of two other great religions – Hinduism and Buddhism – as well as the theme of religion in general. Then, following naturally, came a brief indication regarding dialogue and collaboration with the religions, whose spiritual, moral, and socio-cultural values were to be respected, protected and encouraged (ibid., 2). Thus, in a precise and extraordinarily dense document, a theme is opened up whose importance could not be foreseen at the time. The task that it involves and the efforts that are still necessary in order to distinguish, clarify and understand, are appearing ever more clearly. In the process of active reception, a weakness of this otherwise extraordinary text has gradually emerged: it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance; for this reason the Christian faith, from the outset, adopted a critical stance towards religion, both internally and externally.

If at the beginning of the Council the dominant groups were the Central European Episcopates with their theologians, during the Council sessions the scope of the common endeavour and responsibility constantly broadened. The bishops considered themselves apprentices at the school of the Holy Spirit and at the school of reciprocal collaboration, but at the same time servants of the word of God who were living and working in faith. The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making powers, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply and hence truly to “renew them”. This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.

In Cardinal Frings I had a “father” who lived this spirit of the Council in an exemplary way. He was a man of great openness and breadth, but he also knew that faith alone leads us out into the open, into that space which remains barred to the positivist spirit. This is the faith that he wished to serve with the authority he had received through the sacrament of Episcopal Ordination. I cannot but be ever grateful to him for having brought me – the youngest professor of the Catholic theology faculty of the University of Bonn – as his consultant to the great Church assembly, thereby enabling me, alongside the others, to attend that school and to walk the path of the Council from within. The present volume contains a collection of the various writings that I presented at that school. They are thoroughly fragmentary offerings, which also reveal the learning process that the Council and its reception meant and still means for me. I hope that despite all their limitations, these various offerings, combined, will help to make the Council better understood and to implement it in a healthy ecclesial life. I warmly thank Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller and his collaborators at the Pope Benedict XVI Institute for the extraordinary commitment they have taken on in order to produce this volume.

Castel Gandolfo, on the Feast of Saint Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli
2 August 2012

Benedictus PP. XVI

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3. Homily on the opening mass of the "Year of Faith"


[T]his celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this Basilica; the enthronement of the Book of the Gospels with the same book that was used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing. These signs help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church’s pilgrimage along the pathways of history.

The Year of Faith which we launch today is linked harmoniously with the Church’s whole path over the last fifty years: from the Council, through the Magisterium of the Servant of God Paul VI, who proclaimed a Year of Faith in 1967, up to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, with which Blessed John Paul II re-proposed to all humanity Jesus Christ as the one Saviour, yesterday, today and forever. Between these two Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II, there was a deep and complete convergence, precisely upon Christ as the centre of the cosmos and of history, and upon the apostolic eagerness to announce him to the world. Jesus is the centre of the Christian faith. The Christian believes in God whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ. He is the fulfilment of the Scriptures and their definitive interpreter. Jesus Christ is not only the object of the faith but, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, he is “the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith” (12:2).

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit, is the true and perennial subject of evangelization. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). This mission of Christ, this movement of his continues in space and time, over centuries and continents. It is a movement which starts with the Father and, in the power of the Spirit, goes forth to bring the good news to the poor, in both a material and a spiritual sense. The Church is the first and necessary instrument of this work of Christ because it is united to him as a body to its head. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21), says the Risen One to his disciples, and breathing upon them, adds, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v.22). Through Christ, God is the principal subject of evangelization in the world; but Christ himself wished to pass on his own mission to the Church; he did so, and continues to do so, until the end of time pouring out his Spirit upon the disciples, the same Spirit who came upon him and remained in him during all his earthly life, giving him the strength “to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” and “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).

The Second Vatican Council did not wish to deal with the theme of faith in one specific document. It was, however, animated by a desire, as it were, to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man. The Servant of God Paul VI, two years after the end of the Council session, expressed it in this way: “Even if the Council does not deal expressly with the faith, it talks about it on every page, it recognizes its vital and supernatural character, it assumes it to be whole and strong, and it builds upon its teachings. We need only recall some of the Council’s statements in order to realize the essential importance that the Council, consistent with the doctrinal tradition of the Church, attributes to the faith, the true faith, which has Christ for its source and the Church’s Magisterium for its channel” (General Audience, 8 March 1967). Thus said Paul VI in 1967.

We now turn to the one who convoked the Second Vatican Council and inaugurated it: Blessed John XXIII. In his opening speech, he presented the principal purpose of the Council in this way: “What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively […] Therefore, the principal purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme… a Council is not required for that… [but] this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully respected, needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs of our time” (AAS 54 [1962], 790,791-792). So said Pope John at the inauguration of the Council.

In the light of these words, we can understand what I myself felt at the time: during the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past: the eternal presence of God resounds in the faith, transcending time, yet it can only be welcomed by us in our own unrepeatable today. Therefore I believe that the most important thing, especially on such a significant occasion as this, is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression. This is why I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the “letter” of the Council – that is to its texts – also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity. The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change.

If we place ourselves in harmony with the authentic approach which Blessed John XXIII wished to give to Vatican II, we will be able to realize it during this Year of Faith, following the same path of the Church as she continuously endeavours to deepen the deposit of faith entrusted to her by Christ. The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths.

If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents. Even the initiative to create a Pontifical Council for the promotion of the new evangelization, which I thank for its special effort for the Year of Faith, is to be understood in this context. Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual “desertification”. In the Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path. The first reading spoke to us of the wisdom of the wayfarer (cf. Sir 34:9-13): the journey is a metaphor for life, and the wise wayfarer is one who has learned the art of living, and can share it with his brethren – as happens to pilgrims along the Way of Saint James or similar routes which, not by chance, have again become popular in recent years. How come so many people today feel the need to make these journeys? Is it not because they find there, or at least intuit, the meaning of our existence in the world? This, then, is how we can picture the Year of Faith, a pilgrimage in the deserts of today’s world, taking with us only what is necessary: neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, nor two tunics – as the Lord said to those he was sending out on mission (cf. Lk 9:3), but the Gospel and the faith of the Church, of which the Council documents are a luminous expression, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published twenty years ago.

Venerable and dear Brothers, 11 October 1962 was the Feast of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. Let us entrust to her the Year of Faith, as I did last week when I went on pilgrimage to Loreto. May the Virgin Mary always shine out as a star along the way of the new evangelization. May she help us to put into practice the Apostle Paul’s exhortation, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom […] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:16-17). Amen.

15 comments:

Alan Aversa said...

"the doctrine of tolerance, as worked out in detail by Pius XII, no longer seemed sufficient."

Why not?

"At stake was the freedom to choose and practise religion and the freedom to change it, as fundamental human rights and freedoms. Given its inner foundation, such a concept could not be foreign to the Christian faith, which had come into being claiming that the State could neither decide on the truth nor prescribe any kind of worship."

Isn't this what Constantine did, though?

"In the process of active reception, a weakness of this otherwise extraordinary text has gradually emerged: it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance; for this reason the Christian faith, from the outset, adopted a critical stance towards religion, both internally and externally."

Aren't all other religions besides the One True Religion "sick and distorted forms of religion"?

"The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient."

After 50 years, this has only been stated, not shown. As Msgr. Gherardini writes: "More problematic is […] [Vatican II's] continuity with Tradition, not because it did not declare such a continuity, but because, especially in those key points where it was necessary for this continuity to be evident, the declaration has remained unproven."

Alan Aversa said...

"The previous Councils had almost always been convoked for a precise question to which they were to provide an answer. This time there was no specific problem to resolve. But precisely because of this, a general sense of expectation hovered in the air: Christianity, which had built and formed the Western world, seemed more and more to be losing its power to shape society."

So, since there was no specific problem to resolve, the Council wanted the Church to have more "power to shape society"? That seems like a naturalistic conception of the Church, as though she's just one power-hungry political body among many.

"there was a need to amplify the doctrine of primacy from the First Vatican Council by giving greater weight to the episcopal ministry"

Collegiality amplifies the doctrine of primacy?

"The Church, which during the Baroque era was still, in a broad sense, shaping the world, had from the nineteenth century onwards visibly entered into a negative relationship with the modern era, which had only then properly begun."

The Church is for the glory of God and salvation of souls, not for "shaping the world."

"At stake was the freedom to choose and practise religion and the freedom to change it, as fundamental human rights and freedoms."

The Masonic idea that religious freedom, not just the freedom to be Catholic, is a basic human right should've been burned at the stake!

"The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so."

Why couldn't've most of them created "a new or different Church"? Because they would apostatize in doing so?

"during the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past"

Thus, it seems the Council was guided by more emotion than reason and it had a revolutionary spirit. ☹

“Even if the Council does not deal expressly with the faith, it talks about it on every page, it recognizes its vital and supernatural character, […]” (General Audience, 8 March 1967).

Another contradiction: The Council doesn't "expressly deal with faith", but it "talks about it on every page". Also, it recognizes its "vital" character (Veritas est conformitas mentis et vitae?).

“What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively […] Therefore, the principal purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme… a Council is not required for that… [but] this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully respected, needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs of our time” (AAS 54 [1962], 790,791-792). So said Pope John at the inauguration of the Council.

Yet another contradiction: The "Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme", but doctrine will be discussed because "Christian doctrine [must] be safeguarded and taught more effectively".

But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression.

How can there be "a concrete and precise basis" when, after 50 years since Vatican II, there is still no explanation on how parts of it agree with pre-Vatican II magisteria? The Vatican II documents are in no way freestanding.

Timothy Mulligan said...

"By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them." Matthew 7:16-20.

Enough of this spin on Vatican II. Cut it down and burn it.

Cosmos said...

I am starting to join the camp that thinks that, regardless of the merits of the Second Vatican Council, it was such a monumental and definitve event in these men's lives that they are literally spellbound by it and have a hard time being objective about it. I think this effect was probably amplified by a hierarchy that pulled those most obsessed with the Council towards its center.

The problem is not so much this or that document, statement, expression, etc. The problem is that no one else has any clue why these men constantly insist on referring to the Council as if it is the source and summit of wisdom? It is one thing to have abstract allegiance to it becuase it is--after all--a council. But it is another thing entirely to ignore its obvious deficiencies and pretend that it provides a discernable, consistent, pragmatic, and inspiriing road map for the Church moving forward.

Unfortunately, the fairest interpretation, in my opinion, is that it was a product of mid-20th century optimism, philosophy, and politics. That was an unstable time, and the world has gone a very different direction than those hopeful (or confused) men foresaw. It seems that VII is hopeless outdated, like WWII aircrafts that seemed so powerful at the time.

Benedict Carter said...

The Holy Father is desperately trying to rehabilitate Vatican II from the gutter in which it now lies.

Like Gorbachev and his attempt to reform the Communist Party, I myself believe he will fail.

You can't turn a Trabant into a Rolls-Royce by sticking a couple of go-faster stripes on it.

Janet said...

The problem is not so much this or that document, statement, expression, etc.

@Cosmos. But it is a question of particular words, just as a bug in a computer program is the problem. There's a line (or more) that's causing things to go wrong. It's not a spirit or a zeitgeist, it's an actual poison still lodged in our throats. SSPX has identified the bugs, just gooogle Gleize SSPX and read it.

Tom said...

Cosmos said...
I am starting to join the camp that thinks that, regardless of the merits of the Second Vatican "Council, it was such a monumental and definitve event in these men's lives that they are literally spellbound by it and have a hard time being objective about it. I think this effect was probably amplified by a hierarchy that pulled those most obsessed with the Council towards its center."

That is the key to understanding the tremendous and unwavering attachment to Vatican II that Pope Paul VI, Pope Venerable John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Churchmen from their era held.

That is why many of them on the one hand acknowledged that the Church had collapsed following the Vatican II "reforms" (revolutions), particularly the "renewed" Mass, but refused to acknowledge that the "reforms" played any role in said collapse.

Those of us who were adults or teenagers during the 1960s recall the monumental euphoria — frankly, the hype — that surrounded the Council.

Regardless as to today's official party line, that Vatican II was presented to the Faithful as little more than a "modest" and "traditional" Council, the Faithful had been led to believe that a revolutionary new Church had been born.

Everything...everything was to change.

Here is your new Mass...

The party line today is that the new Mass was not presented as a break with Holy Tradition.

However, Pope Paul VI's words statements show otherwise.

CHANGES IN MASS FOR GREATER APOSTOLATE
Pope Paul VI

Address to a General Audience, November 26, 1969

Our Dear Sons and Daughters:

"We ask you to turn your minds once more to the liturgical innovation of the new rite of the Mass.

"A new rite of the Mass: a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries.

"This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled.

"We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience.

"It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits.

"We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others.

"Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect.

"This novelty is no small thing...the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language.

"No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass.

"We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance.

"We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant."

Did Pope Paul VI not acknowledge that a momumental break with Holy Tradition was at hand?

Were the Faithful not presented with a liturgical revolution?

Tom

Part 1 of 2

Tom said...

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Faithful received from their Churchmen a liturgical and spiritual revolution.

Whenever the Faithful questioned each novelty that had been presented to them — liturgical novelties, novel vestments, the movement from beautiful churches to ugly "worship spaces", bizarre ecumenical gatherings — their Churchmen answered that they (Cardinals, bishops and priests) had simply implemented Conciliar teachings.

Our Churchmen who had led the charge for change during and immediately following the Council were excited for and convinced that their revolution would usher in a great time for the Church and world.

During the Council, we saw Churchmen cast aside their religious garb for suits and ties.

They conferred with their non-Catholic friends, who were presented as important "clergymen" who had been granted the right to help change the Catholic Church.

Amazing!

For our Churchmen of that time, the Second Vatican Council and subsequent revolution were their babies — their work...their gifts to the Faithful and world.

Unfortunately, the Church collapsed following the Council, "renwed" Mass and countless novel changes that had been foisted upon the Faithful.

The most important and euphoric time — Vatican II and immediate years following Vatican II — for the Churchmen in question failed to usher in the wonderful "renewed" Church and world that they had envisioned.

To return to Cosmos' statement:

"I am starting to join the camp that thinks that, regardless of the merits of the Second Vatican Council, it was such a monumental and definitve event in these men's lives that they are literally spellbound by it and have a hard time being objective about it."

That is the problem. That is the problem.

Tom

Part 2 of 2

Tom said...

"It seems that VII is hopeless outdated, like WWII aircrafts that seemed so powerful at the time."

At least some B-17s, B-29s, B-24s, P-38s and P-51s remain airworthy.

As to Vatican II's airworthiness...

Tom

Barbara said...

"The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths."

The Holy Father is indeed trying to salvage the Vatican II Council with these speeches - I am not qualified to make a critique of all he says - but this reference that "many" churchmen " embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith," makes me ask the question "How come?" Did something happen at that Council to trigger this off?

The Council could have been a good even great thing - as one can see from the films of the great gathering of ecclesiatics from all over the map - but something deviant happened during it- it is unquestionable. I have read about a lot of the shenanigins and even skullduggery that went on behind and not so behind the scenes - I don't think they were operations of the Holy Spirit.

And this:

"Reference to the [ Council]documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity."

O Dear Holy Father - I wish I understood what you are driving at here.

With all due respect, I don't like what the Council did to the Church - and I especially don't like what IT did to the Holy Mass - and this has nothing to do with extremes of "anachronistic nostalgia."

Barbara

Tom said...

If fairness to the Council, we know that many parts of Vatican II simply repeat, in clear fashion, Holy Tradition.

As even Bishop Fellay made clear, it is a given that the Council is legitimate and that he does not have trouble with, what, 90 percent of the Council?

The problem with the Council is the "time-bombs" that the radical "reformers" planted within Vatican II's documents.

The 1988 Protocol that Rome signed with Archbishop Lefebvre acknowledged that certain points taught by the Second Vatican Council or concerning subsequent reforms of the liturgy and law appear difficult to reconcile to Holy Tradition.

As America Magazine said, "Father Edward Schillebeeckx was a Dominican priest who advised the Dutch bishops at Vatican II and became a major figure in the Church’s efforts to implement the reforms of that Council in the decades that followed."

Father Schillebeeckx declared that the "reformers" had employed ambiguous language when they composed certain Vatican II texts.

Father said that "we have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards."

That is the problem with Vatican II — the ambiguity...the time-bombs.

To salvage Vatican II, I pray that the Holy Father will heed Bishop Athanasius Schneider's desire for a Syllabus that would condemn the misinterpretations of Vatican II.

If Vatican II can and is to be interpreted in the light of Holy Tradition, then the Holy Father must perform the above.

Most important, to salvage Vatican II and lift the Church, at least the Latin Church, from Her state of collapse, His Holiness must cast aside the Novus in favor of the Traditional Roman Mass.

The problem is that Novus Ordo is, for all practical purposes — no offense to our beloved Eastern Divine Liturgies — the visible face of Vatican II.

Pope Venerable John Paul II declared that "the liturgical renewal is the most visible fruit of the whole work of the Council.

"For many people the message of the Second Vatican Council has been experienced principally through the liturgical reform."

Again, without any offense to our Eastern Churches and beautiful Divine Liturgies, the reality is that the Novus Ordo Mass is, to the majority of Catholics, (as they belong to the Latin Church) and, for that matter, world, the face of the Church and, subsequently, Second Vatican Council.

Unfortunately, that is why Pope Benedict XVI has made clear the reality that he will ensure that the (Latin) Church will move forward with the Novus Ordo as Her primary — most visible — Liturgy.

Therefore, expect Pope Benedict XVI's assessment of the collapsed state of the Catholic Church (certainly the Latin Church) — "in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel" — to remain true.

Tom

Tom said...

"I have read about a lot of the shenanigins and even skullduggery that went on behind and not so behind the scenes - I don't think they were operations of the Holy Spirit."

For example, during the First Council of Nicaea, violence,
shenanigins, skullduggery and countless accusations of improper conduct among Churchmen surrounded said Council.

Worse than that was the Vatican II-like chaos that visited the Church following the First Council of Nicaea.

"Shenanigins and even skullduggery" have marked the human side of Holy Mother Church from Her very beginning.

As his crucifixion neared, our Church's first bishops abandonded Jesus Christ.

For 30 pieces of silver, Judas Iscariot, a Catholic bishop, betrayed Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, within Holy Mother Church, "shenanigins and even skullduggery" have abounded during the past 2,000 years.

Tom

Tom said...

Barbara said..."With all due respect, I don't like what the Council did to the Church - and I especially don't like what IT did to the Holy Mass..."

The new party line — the reform of the reform movement — claims that the Novus Ordo is not...not...the Mass that Vatican II's liturgical teachings envisioned.

Walter Cardinal Brandmüller echoed that theme recently.

From Rorate Caeli, August 28, 2012 A.D.

http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2012/08/brandmuller-mass-of-paul-vi-is-not-mass.html

Brandmüller: the Mass of Paul VI IS NOT the Mass of the Council

Sacrosanctum Concilium never really implemented
-------------------------

The new party line in question stands in tremendous contradiction to that which Popes Paul VI and Venerable John Paul II taught in regard to the formation of the Novus Ordo.

Will the new party line, which is part of the attempt among numerous Churchmen and laymen to salvage Vatican II, prevail throughout the Church?

Traditionalists stand most certainly with Barbara and her view that Vatican II ushered in bad times for Holy Mother Church and the Holy Mass.

Tom

Gratias said...

"Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity."

Benedict XVI wants Vatican II council to be considered only through the documents themselves. But the toothpaste is out of the tube already. The churches are destroyed or wreckovated, Gregorian chant gone. At least he gave us back a our "anachronistic nostalgia" that helps us live better lives through the Latin liturgy. It will be a long uphill battle to restore the Church.

John XXIII made a huge mistake with the convocation of a council in the Sixties. It was the worst possible moment. The bishops of Belgium, France and Germany were not content with destroying their own churches, which are now deserts, but stuck it to all of us as well.

Hidden One said...

Alan Aversa, think that you would better understadn the Pope if you would make mroe distinctions. (Qui bene distinguit, etc.) It seems, too, to me that you are not attempting to read it charitably, which would also be an aid in its understanding.

I will give replies to eight examples, drawn in order from your comments.

1. Granting that he did, Constantine is not the perfect exemplar of a Christian ruler.
2. The Pope is saying that, although there was no specific problem to address, there was a general problem. A society no longer being shaped by the Church is...well, every day we see the consequences of that!
3. Collegiality is not the sum total of Second Vatican Council's teaching concerning the episcopacy.
4. A world shaped by the Church, as I just wrote above, is one in which many souls are more easily saved than its opposite.
5. The Holy Father explains that the Fathers of the Council did not intend to create a new or different church because he wishes to correct the notion that they did.
6. The presence of an emotional tension is a rather different thing than something being guided by emotion. Furthermore, there is anothing of a revolutionary spirit in the Pope's words here. The key to misunderstanding the Pope on this point is assuming that the Church is "tied to the past" by dogmas and suchlike in the mind of the Pope, rather than only in the mind of 'liberals'. But no, the Pope here is referring to things that it is not problematic to alter.
7. There is no contradiction whatsoever between not expressly dealign with an issue and constantly dealing with it in a more oblique manner. Here the Pope has made a true distinction and you have not understood it, it woudl seem.
8. Again, on doctrine, the Pope is makign a distinction between dealign with something general (a universal - all doctrine) with something specific (a particular - a certain doctrine). It is a very real distinction and a very important one.