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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Roberto de Mattei: The Unspoken history of Vatican II

An interesting video (in English with Polish translation), with serious reflections on the Second Vatican Council by Prof. Roberto de Mattei should be carefully studied by Catholics. Your understanding of the Council will be deeply enriched by this address.

The address was given in Krakow, Poland before the Club "Polonia Christiana". de Mattei is clear, he is speaking as an historian, not a theologian. The opening address by John XXIII is of critical importance to de Mattei: the relationship between the Church and the modern world. It was to be non-doctrinal, but a new pastoral approach. The Church's language was changing, because Her judgment on the world was changing. The shift to the papacy of Paul VI was no longer optimism, but a pessimism, founded on Maritainian "integral humanism" (c.f. Paul's closing address). 

More importantly than even the documents is the paradigm of the Council which can be summed up in Paul VI's "boundless sympathy for the world". The pastoral element was raised to a higher level than the dogmatic; the accidental pastoral element became the priority. The change in language from the past is to carry out a transformation that is deeper than seen. The manner of presentation, reveals a way of being and thinking. 

For example, says de Mattei, the thinking that hell is empty (something the Council did not do) is not only reckless, but probably an heretical proposition. Omitting/limiting hell - as the Council did - in reference to hell, is not erroneous, but is an omission that paves the way for a more serious error in that hell is something that is not spoken of, or does not exist. Kung, Rahner etc., reduced hell to a mythological description, while considering its reality as empty. This negation, or resizing of hell, was implicit in the papal opening address. 

A more momentous example of omission is that of communism. Until the Council the Magisterium was clear and spoke with condemnation. The sessions of the Council would have been a perfect place to commence a trial against communism, as Nuremburg exposed culturally, morally Nazism. The progressive minority demanded a dialogical opening to the world. A petition to condemn on Oct 9th, 1965, by over 454 fathers from 86 countries, was suppressed; causing an enormous scandal. Cardinal Oddi wrote that it was a "disconcerting fact" that the Council did not speak about communism. Gaudium et Spes tried to render a new description between the Church and the world. Yet, it lacked any condemnation of communism.

de Mattei believes that the heritage left by the Council is the loss of the "militant spirit"; the rediscovery of this is an urgent priority of the Church of our time. The defenders of tradition in the Assembly, need to be recognized as prophets; we need defenders of tradition, patrons of tradition. St. Teresa of Avila wrote words that should comfort us: "let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you, everything passes. God never changes". These words, says de Mattei should be a manifesto. Tradition is not only the rule of the Church, but the foundation of society. 

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