Rorate Caeli

Guest-post: Optional Adherence to Vatican II:
If it's Ecumenical, why deny it? If it's not, why the selective enforcement?

Guest-post by an anonymous longtime academic reader:

As we all know, Fr. Volpi, Apostolic Commissar for the Franciscans of the Immaculate, has been exercising a sort of Anti-"Crypto-Lefebvrian" Inquisition, let us call it an “inquisitio haereticae pravitatis”..., and one of the measures he has imposed is the formal acceptance of the Second Vatican Council according to the authority which the Magisterium of the Church attributes to it. One might therefore ask, does the Church consider the Second Vatican Council an ecumenical council? What is the authority attributed to it?

The late Melkite Patriarch Maximos V did not, as seen in 30 Days (no. 2, 1997). Maximos declared it “unthinkable” to treat the second millennium “Councils of the Western Church” (!) as a condition for unity with the Orthodox, “including papal infallibility”(!!). And: “ must be recognized that all the Councils after the first millennium, including Vatican I and II, cannot be described as ecumenical... . The decisions taken in those assizes cannot regard the Eastern Churches which did not participate in them.” (A whole set of theological presuppositions, not to mention lack of historical rigor, lies behind those statements. The Patriarch of Constantinople, the metropolitan of Kiev and about 60 Greek bishops co-defined the Filioque and the Roman primacy at Florence in 1439. See the standard exhaustive treatment in Joseph Gill, SJ, of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, The Council of Florence, Cambridge, 1959).

In a similar vein, over a decade later, we have world-renowned Byzantine scholar Fr. Robert Taft, SJ, professor for 38 years at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (now retired), who indicates that the Catholic Church could “specify more clearly” which councils are ecumenical. “Are the purely Roman Catholic post-schism councils to be considered ecumenical councils of the undivided Church? If so, says who?” (Interview, “Building Bridges Between Orthodox and Catholic Christians,” in Sophia, Summer 2013, pages 7-9, reprinted from The Holy Land Review.)

Fr. Taft summarizes the “new” Catholic “Sister Churches” ecclesiology as a “startling revolution in how the Catholic Church views itself: we are no longer the only kid on the block, the whole Church of Christ, but one Sister Church among others.” In former times, the Catholic Church considered herself as the original and true Church from which others had split, and “Catholics held, simplistically, that the solution to divided Christendom consisted in all other Christians returning to Rome’s maternal bosom.” In the next lines, Taft qualifies the earlier view as “historically ludicrous, self-centered, self-congratulatory”.

That Vatican II was an ecumenical council will certainly not be foreign to the minds of the Franciscans who will sign what Fr. Volpi puts in front of them in the name of Church and obedience. And probably many readers of this blog would obey a Commissar of the Roman Pontiff, if they were religious and clerics, because they firmly hold what Fr. Taft and many well-read and clerical Catholics today dismiss as “ludicrous”. With divine faith and human perplexity, we ask Pope Francis and the Curial inquisitors over the Franciscans of the Immaculate, what kind of communion with the Church is that?

Optional adherence is either open to all or to none.