Rorate Caeli

Vatican II at 40 - Continuity - III - An Explosive Speech

My intention today had been to conclude the analysis of the homily pronounced by the Pope on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 40th anniversary of the end of the Council, already commented in Parts I and II of this series.

However, what else do I need to say when the Holy Father HIMSELF makes it clear that the ONLY correct reading of Vatican II is one in CONTINUITY with Tradition? That the Conciliar Fathers had NO AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER to issue anything new? That, unlike a "Constitutional Convention"['Costituente', in Italian], with a mandate to write a whole new Constitution, Vatican II has NO MANDATE WHATSOEVER to establish anything new?

No, I am not delirious, these were the exact words of Pope Benedict in his Christmas Speech to the Roman Curia, given today (available here in Italian). A few snippets, while the translation is officially given in the next few days by the Vatican (I beg you forgiveness for a lousy translation):

Why has the reception of the Council, in a great part of the Church, been up to this day so difficult? Well, it all depends on the just interpretation of the Council or -- as we would say today -- on its just hermeneutics, on the fair keys to its reading and application. ... [Emerge la domanda: Perché la recezione del Concilio, in grandi parti della Chiesa, finora si è svolta in modo così difficile? Ebbene, tutto dipende dalla giusta interpretazione del Concilio o – come diremmo oggi – dalla sua giusta ermeneutica, dalla giusta chiave di lettura e di applicazione. ]

On one hand, there is an interpretation which I would call "hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture"; this one has not rarely been seen with sympathy by the mass-media and even by a part of modern theology. On the other hand, there is the "hermeneutics of reform", of renewal in continuity with the only subject -- the Church -- which the Lord has established; it is a subject which grows with time and which develops, remaining however always the same, the only subject, the walking People of God. ...[Da una parte esiste un'interpretazione che vorrei chiamare "ermeneutica della discontinuità e della rottura"; essa non di rado si è potuta avvalere della simpatia dei mass-media, e anche di una parte della teologia moderna. Dall'altra parte c'è l'"ermeneutica della riforma", del rinnovamento nella continuità dell'unico soggetto-Chiesa, che il Signore ci ha donato; è un soggetto che cresce nel tempo e si sviluppa, rimanendo però sempre lo stesso, unico soggetto del Popolo di Dio in cammino.]

The hermeneutics of discontinuity risks causing a rupture between a pre-Conciliar Church and a post-Conciliar Church. ... this is not the true expression of the spirit of the Council....[L'ermeneutica della discontinuità rischia di finire in una rottura tra Chiesa preconciliare e Chiesa postconciliare. Essa asserisce che i testi del Concilio come tali non sarebbero ancora la vera espressione dello spirito del Concilio.]

The hermeneutics of discontinuity is opposed by the hermeneutics of reform, as presented by Pope John XXIII in his opening speech of the Council... . I wish to quote for this reason the very well noticed words of John XXIII, in which this hermeneutics is expressed unmistakeably when he says that the Council "wishes to trasmit the doctrine pure and integral, with no attenuations or equivocations," [All'ermeneutica della discontinuità si oppone l'ermeneutica della riforma, come l'hanno presentata dapprima Papa Giovanni XXIII nel suo discorso d'apertura del Concilio .... Vorrei qui citare soltanto le parole ben note di Giovanni XXIII, in cui questa ermeneutica viene espressa inequivocabilmente quando dice che il Concilio "vuole trasmettere pura ed integra la dottrina, senza attenuazioni o travisamenti",]

I do not have the time to translate the many important points of the speech now. This is the reinterpretation speech many were expecting last December 8. This is the message the Church has been expecting for 40 years: there IS NO "POST-CONCILIAR CHURCH". There is ONE CHURCH, which, as her Head, is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, world without end.