Rorate Caeli

The Council and the Church's loss of relevance

Bishop Jozef De Kesel is no stranger to our readers. Rorate Caeli blogged about what could be construed as a heretical statement that he made shortly after his installation as the Bishop of Bruges, Belgium. Last week, In Caelo translated some gloomy remarks on Vatican II and its aftermath (see below) that were attributed to him by the Dutch website Rorate. (You read that right.)

Emphases mine.

“The renewal that the Council had heralded so promising, has not come to pass, at least not to the scale that people had imagined. The Council pleaded for a greater openness to modern culture. And rightly so. But modern culture unavoidably means a secular culture and a secular culture equally unavoidably means a non-Christian culture. That is something that the Council and the following post-conciliar renewal has insufficiently recognised. On the contrary, it sooner thought that openness to modern culture would lead to a return to an admittedly modern, but yet also Christian culture. Which did not happen. Which obviously did not happen. A much more fundamental process of change in western culture was what it was about. It was not, and still is not only about a Church which was to adapt to the new culture. It was about this culture, as a culture, bidding farewell to Christianity. And for Christianity this does not mean the end, but the end of a status that it had had here for centuries: that of a cultural religion, the religion that grounded culture and held it together and was therefore universally recognised and accepted. The Council itself could do nothing about this process of change, which was not on the agenda of the Council. It is a process of change that started long before the Council and which continued after the Council. The question remains not so much how the Church should continue to adapt to modern culture, but what it means to be Church in a modern and therefore thoroughly secular, non-Christian world.

We continue to think that, if the Church would reach out to modern culture, that that culture would once again stand up for her. We are still searching for the adapted liturgy of the new language which would finally solve the problem of the loss of relevance of Christianity. But it remains to be seen if we will ever find it. In that way we keep on suffering from a fundamental and unspoken frustration in our pastoral work, our way of being Church and of Church renewal.

It is not right that a Church which consistently modernises would again convince everyone. It is hard and painful to accept that the Gospel is no longer considered relevant for everyone. A Church that is more consistently adapted to modernity will not lead to a return to the past. It will never again be like the past. In a lengthy process of which Vaticanum II was merely a symptom, the west had not only bid farewell to a certain unadapted form of Christian, but has Christianity steadily ceased to be the cultural religion of western civilisation.”


  1. Excellent. That Vatican II was based on flawed assumptions is what traditionalists have been saying for decades. Will the neocaths now attack his Excellency as a schismatic ratrad?

  2. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Answer ; return to a healthy understanding of tradition as promoted by our Holy Father.

  3. Anonymous7:10 PM

    Gloomy remarks on Vatican II?

    On Rorate Coeli??

    Well, now I've heard everything!!!


  4. Vatican II was to the Church what the Manhattan Project was to Nagasaki.

  5. I have written elsewhere (including in a respected Catholic publication) that Vatican II can, and should, be ignored. It is a valid council, but so were other failed councils.

    I had a Msgr. wag his finger at me and tell me that because most of VII's documents were approved by 2000+ bishops, it was "heresy" to deny them (and, as is my nature, I was very respectful to him). Well, as an attorney--and knowing something of law--I countered that VII proclaimed no dogmas. How can you declare one a heretic if he hasn't denied a dogma of the Church? The simple answer is, you can't! The fact is that Vatican II is infused with heretical Modernism. [that's my opinion, but Msgr. Gherardini, I think, backs me up on it.

    It just kind of makes me laugh that some of these prelates are so hopped-up on VII, that they can't even see simple Truth!

  6. Bishop De Kesel said:

    "..our way of being Church"


    The Good News is…
    In fear and joy
    That apprentices are
    Still altar boys

    And Tabernacles on
    Sacrificial altar
    Rebound the sounds
    Of David’s Psalter

    The entire year
    Our missals hold
    Celebrating cerebrally
    The new and the old

    Sarcophagus seasons
    Of abstinence and fast
    Absolves the flesh
    Buries sins past

    And liturgy’s vernacular
    Constantly feigned
    Pales ‘fore Precambrian
    Death’s Latin had reigned

    For truth nails eternal
    In Catholicity
    Through minutes of centuries’

  7. rodrigo9:17 PM

    Bizarre to read these comments coming from a bishop who dresses like a provincial solicitor. Still, good words, and worth quoting elsewhere.

  8. The first paragraph is insightful and largely correct.

    After that, he starts to go off the rails. One can guess at his prescription, which being more or less like that tried by the Anglicans and other liberal mainline Protestants would be similarly destined to fail - badly.

  9. Prof. Basto11:20 PM

    The only thing that I cannot understand reading this is this: why does the author say "and rightly so" immediately after the first lines that are marked in bold?

    Does the author, after that analisys, still believe that it was right for the Church to modernize or to attempt modernization?

    If the surrounding culture is becoming secular, is loosing its Christian roots, wouldn't it make more sense for the Church to retain its strong identity, a strong voice, the unequivocal style of the pre-Conciliar magisterium instead of the more fluid style of newer documents; wouldn't it be best for the Church to stick to its unapologetic adherence to its Tradition; wouldn't it be best for us to retain our traditional liturgy and strong external symbols, such as priests in cassocks, etc?

  10. The title of this article is a solecism.

    Something, even as wondrous as the Church, cannot be "relevant" all by itself, hence cannot "lose relevance".

    It has to be relevant TO something else.

    Whether the Church should be relevant to society is questionable, as she is her own alternative to the Kingdom of this world.

    Christ does not save societies, but individual souls.

  11. Tom the Milkman11:35 PM

    "We continue to think that, if the Church would reach out to modern culture, that that culture would once again stand up for her."

    I think the Bishop's needle is stuck in the groove. Why would modern culture 'stand up for' the Church? The Bishop of Bruges is so preoccupied being church, the apparent contradistinction to the Roman Church eludes his Lordship. Fascinating remarks. He almost had me convinced he'd experienced Damascus until I got to that "we continue to think..." business. Good grief, Excellency.

  12. Anonymous2:15 AM

    I think it's wrong to assume that he's lamenting this bidding farewell.

  13. Action speak louder than words My Lord Bishop

  14. Gratias6:15 AM

    Long-Skirts for poet-laureate of Rorate Caeli. Thanks.

  15. Tradmeister1:18 PM

    New Catholic,
    Best Second Vatican quote I've seen in a long time. Great!

  16. We are still searching for the adapted liturgy of the new language which would finally solve the problem of the loss of relevance of Christianity. But it remains to be seen if we will ever find it.

    GRANDFATHER: Have you seen my eyeglasses?
    CHILD: They're on your head, Grandpa.

  17. Anonymous3:29 PM

    As a resident of Brussels, I am very happy that Mgr. De Kesel has been transferred to Bruges. I am happier still to see that he is now saying more sensible things -- his championing of the ordination of women was scandalous.

  18. Anonymous 23 June 2011 02:15: You have hit the nail on the head. The bishop's words give no sign of theological, liturgical, or moral retrenchment. The statement reads like an accountant's dispassionate summary of fifty years' worth of profit and loss, with the fact that the profits are nil and the losses incalculably great being matter for others to assess or fret over.

  19. Anonymous9:12 PM

    ...but nobody dared to point out the truth about the emperor's new clothes.

  20. In the very last sentence Bishop De Kesel demonstrates to what extent he has lost the plot. The role of the Church in the world is clearly taught by Jesus in His parables: you are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world, the kingdom of God is like

    It is precisely because Vatican II, by embracing the spirit of the world, deliberately chose *not* to be the salt, the light or the leaven, that it became instead merely a symptom of the times. From its traditional role of giving the lead to the rest of the
    world the Church changed to taking its orders from it.

  21. The NO church is irrelevant as attendance figures reveal. By adapting to the spirit of the age the post-conciliar church has disobeyed the authoritative admonition by St Paul himself.


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