Rorate Caeli

Tectonic shifts: For the Roman Curia, the end of the "super-Council"

A guest-post by Côme de Prévigny

In 1988, addressing the Chilean bishops, Cardinal Ratzinger affirmed, "The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of 'superdogma' which takes away the importance of all the rest."

While affirming his remaining attachment to Vatican II, Benedict XVI, on this September 14, 2011, brought down the taboo of the Council. For while no Pope could free a Catholic from the decisions of dogmatic Councils, the Pope, by way of the text of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, liberates the souls from those of a pastoral Council. From now on, one may be of the Church without holding on to the controversial points of Vatican II. In 2007, the helmsman of the Church had already undermined the monopoly held by the Novus Ordo. Four years later, he removes from the Conciliar doctrine its non-negotiable character and its exclusivity. It is not any longer the alpha and the omega of the life of the Church; that life is now once again refocused on its object: Faith.

It is true that, in small steps, the Catholic world, and the Curia in particular, faced with what John Paul II called the "silent apostasy", have allowed themselves to be interested in the Traditional world, once exiled and condemned, now increasingly esteemed. A French bishop said a while ago that he felt forced to bow to this movement, because the youth was present in it. In Rome, the major master of ceremonies lifts from the dust the traditional ornaments of which the Supreme Pontiffs, from Pius IX to Pius XII, made use. In the doctrinal domain, some parallelism is to be found, even though it is less evident. After Benedict XVI accepted to discuss the Vatican II texts with the Society of Saint Pius X, some prelates, especially the younger ones, decided to find out in the archives what was unanimously believed before the Council. Very slowly, the phenomenon begins and widens, to the detriment of the aggiornamento... And voices rise up in Italy denouncing the spirit of the Council, which has not let fresh air in, but rather a freezing gust. These voices are those of a Monsignor Gherardini and of the author of his preface, Bishop Oliveri. Those of a Roberto de Mattei or of a Bishop Schneider. All take up their pens and do not hesitate to openly demand that the taboo of the Council be finally shattered.

Is this a sign of the times? Recently, a prelate of the Curia, after having read the book "On priestly holiness" ("La sainteté sacerdotale"), by Archbishop Lefebvre, confided, "I cried after a while because I went through seminary and I had never had the priesthood explained to me as he does there. It is a whole world that opens up for us, for no one had explained to us what the priest was." It is a whole world that opens up...