Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict

Friday, 31 August 2012

Vatican II: Renewal not Betrayal

"We will hear the call of the world with the help of God. We will continue to offer, unwearingly to the human race today, the remedy for all its evils in response to its appeal 'Christ and His infinite goodness'. But will the world listen to our voice?"   Pope Paul VI, Sermon on the day of his Coronation, June 30th, 1963. 

Pope Paul VI
This post will be the first in a series of reflections on Vatican II. This is highly appropriate for a number of reasons: 1) this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Council; 2) the truth about the Council needs to be heard; and 3) the authoritative voices of the Popes on what the Council was, is and how it is to be interpreted and applied in the life of the Church. It is painfully obvious that the crisis following the Council was a continuation of the "Modernist" crisis during the pontificates of Leo XIII and Pius X. In conversation with Freyr, we concluded that "modernist" along with a number of other terms need to be correctly defined within their original contexts for any real dialogue. "Liberal", "conservative", "traditionalist", "Neo-con Catholic" and even "Catholic" and "protestant"- all these terms must be defined. It is also equally painfully obvious that there is a strident religio-political party claiming to be "traditional" who are doing considerable damage to the Church; injuring Her through a lack of charity and undermining dogma. Rejecting the Council to move back to a private judgment pre-conciliar "church" is just as sinful as trying to fashion a post-conciliar "church". It has become quite evident, that many who claim to be "traditional" Catholics, are actually doing the devil's work (just look around on the 'net for all the gleeful scandal trolling posts), as much as those whom they denounce as "modernist". 

I am lucky enough to possess a book entitled "The teachings of Paul VI" consisting of Angelus addresses for the Year of Faith, 1968. These brief expositions on the Faith and the Council reveal the Pope's mind at the time and his authoritative interpretation of the Council: in other words, this is a seminal document on the application of the Council. Again, and again, as one reads the book from 2012 one realizes that the world and those in the Church did not listen to the Pope's voice. Moreover, this book reveals the Pope as not only a man of intense faith and strongly anti-modernist; but a pragmatic man who was well aware of the crisis that was transpiring in the Church and the world. What is more, upon reading the book, one discerns that the crisis was not the Council - it was a false interpretation and corruption of the Council

To create some semblance of order and to unpackage the Pope's various themes, this first post will merely outline the Holy Father's overview of the Council. 

There are many things that can be corrected and modified in Catholic life, many doctrines that can be studied more deeply, completed and expressed in more comprehensible terms, many rules than can be simplified and better adapted to the needs of our times. 

But there are two matters beyond argument: the truth of the Faith, authoritatively sanctioned by tradition and by the ecclesiastical magisterium, and the constitutional law of the Church. Obedience must be given to the ministry of the pastoral government  that Christ has established, and that the wisdom of the Church has developed and extended in the various members of the mystical and visible body of the Church, to guide and strengthen the many component parts that make up the People of God. 

Therefore: renewal, yes. Arbitrary change, no. History of the Church, ever living and new, yes. Historicism destructive of traditional dogma, no. Theological integration according to the teaching of the Council, yes. Theology deriving from arbitrary subjective theories, often borrowed from hostile sources, no. A Church open to ecumenical charity, to responsible dialogue, to the recognition of Christian values among our separated brethren, yes. An irenic theology that betrays the truth of the faith and adopts certain negative principles which have contributed to thew separation of so many Christians from the centre of unity of the Catholic communion, no. Religious liberty for all in civilised society, and liberty of personal adherence to religion according to the well-considered choice of the individual conscience, yes. Liberty of conscience as the criterion of religious truth, without reference to the authenticity of serious and authorized teaching, no. And so on.   (Angelus Address, April 25, 1968). 

1 comment:

Freyr said...

Very informative post. The words modernist, catholic, protestant, conservative, traditionalist, liberal and the like have all degenerated to the point of uselessness. They are not much more than a club with which to smack your opponent. Since they have become bereft of content the ordinary Roman Catholic sitting in the pew has become incapable of even thinking about these things much less talking about them. Since we wish to do something more than play whack-a-mole we will attempt to define some of these things in their historical context in the lead up to Vatican II. More to come...