Rorate Caeli

The End of the "Post-Conciliar Church" - Day Two - THE EPOCH-MAKING SPEECH

The "mainstream Catholic press" in America ("conservative" as well as "liberal") does not seem to have realized the importance of the explosive speech that Pope Benedict gave yesterday ( see here). With the exception of Sandro Magister's blog (in Italian), no Catholic news outlet or papal blog has highlighted the real focus of the speech.

No, the focus was not the recollection of the conclave, as the secular media would have us believe. The nucleus of the speech was the first clear papal pronouncement, 40 years later, on what must be the official interpretation of Vatican II and the first which faced the dreary consequences of the last Ecumenical Council. A few days ago, I had mentioned what was the Pope's true "Spirit of the Council": "the spirit which considers the Council a permanent fixture of the past of the Church, uses some of the Council’s own imagery, but overcomes it: it was not the first Ecumenical Council, it was probably not the last one, but it must not be seen as a watershed in the History of the Church. It was an event, it failed, may bygones be bygones and let the Church walk on its historical path, in which Vatican II was just an event, as so many others".

I had, of course, no knowledge whatsoever that the Pope would in a few hours give his epoch-making speech; it was all based on cold analysis of his homily for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and on Cardinal Ratzinger's own past thoughts on the issue.

Today, at last, Sandro Magister's own Chiesa website, of L'Espresso, has brought forth a translation of the important parts of the Pope's Christmas Speech to the Roman Curia, which you may read here. This is History in the making -- literally. The Pope has opened a new age in the History of contemporary Catholicism. He has put the Council in its proper place, he has explained to bewildered Catholics what is that the Council wished to do.

He has recognized, candidly, that difficult Conciliar issues, such as "religious freedom" were not properly explained -- which caused the disconnection between past and present which Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP, has wonderfully summed in this famous article. In the case of religious freedom, there was simply a change of POLICY towards the modern State, which was wrongly interpreted by most as a change of metaphysical Truth by the Church, something which no Council could ever do:

Thus, for example, with freedom of religion seen as expressing mankind’s inability to find truth, relativism becomes the canon. From being a social and historical necessity it is incorrectly elevated to a metaphysical level that loses its true meaning. It therefore becomes unacceptable to those who believe that mankind can reach the truth of God and, based on truth’s inner dignity, is related to such knowledge. This is completely different from viewing freedom of religion as a necessity that human coexistence requires or even seeing it as an inherent consequence of the truth that such freedom cannot be imposed from the outside but must come from a conviction from within.

Read it all. It's all here.