FLASHBACK: 1988 – Ratzinger on the Lefebvre “schism”

I tip my biretta to Pontifications    o{]:¬)   for reminding me about a speech Joseph Card. Ratzinger gave in Chile in 1988 just days after the late Archbp. Marcel Lefebvre illicitly consecrated bishops in an act many think was schismatic. 

My emphases and comments in what follows.  I make additional observations at the end.

 Early Ratzinger on the Lefevbrian Schism

(Following is the translated text of an address by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, given July 13, 1988, in Santiago, Chile before that nation’s bishops. It is a remarkable statement regarding the living Magisterium, dogmatic truth, constructive criticism, and self-examination.)

* * * * *

In recent months we have put a lot of work into the case of Lefebvre with the sincere intention of creating for his movement a space within the Church that would be sufficient for it to live. The Holy See has been criticized for this. It is said that it has not defended the Second Vatican Council with sufficient energy [MP naysayers are still whining on the same note.]; that, while it has treated progressive movements with great severity, it has displayed an exaggerated sympathy with the Traditionalist rebellion.  [If they really think that, one wonders what they were smoking.] The development of events is enough to disprove these assertions. The mythical harshness of the Vatican in the face of the deviations of the progressives is shown to be mere empty words. Up until now, in fact, only warnings have been published; in no case have there been strict canonical penalties in the strict sense. And the fact that when the chips were down Lefebvre denounced an agreement that had already been signed, shows that the Holy See, while it made truly generous concessions, did not grant him that complete license which he desired. Lefebvre has seen that, in the fundamental part of the agreement, he was being held to accept Vatican II and the affirmations of the postconciliar Magisterium, according to the proper authority of each document.

There is a glaring contradiction in the fact that it is just the people who have let no occasion slip to allow the world to know of their disobedience to the Pope, and to the magisterial declarations of the last 20 years, who think they have the right to judge that this attitude is too mild and who wish that an absolute obedience to Vatican II had been insisted upon. In a similar way they would claim that the Vatican has conceded a right to dissent to Lefebvre which has been obstinately denied to the promoters of a progressive tendency. In reality, the only point which is affirmed in the agreement, following Lumen Gentium 25, is the plain fact that not all documents of the council have the same authority. For the rest, it was explicitly laid down in the text that was signed that public polemics must be avoided, and that an attitude is required of positive respect for official decisions and declarations.

It was conceded, in addition, that the Fraternity of St. Pius X would be able to present to the Holy See – which reserves to itself the sole right of decision – their particular difficulties in regard to interpretations of juridical and liturgical reforms. All of this shows plainly that in this difficult dialog Rome has united generosity, in all that was negotiable, with firmness in essentials. The explanation which Msgr. Lefebvre has given, for the retraction of his agreement, is revealing. He declared that he has finally understood that the agreement he signed aimed only at integrating his foundation into the “Conciliar Church.” The Catholic Church in union with the Pope is, according to him, the “Conciliar Church” which has broken with its own past. It seems indeed that he is no longer able to see that we are dealing with the Catholic Church in the totality of its Tradition, and that Vatican II belongs to that.

Without any doubt, the problem that Lefebvre has posed has not been concluded by the rupture of June 30. It would be too simple to take refuge in a sort of triumphalism, and to think that this difficulty has ceased to exist from the moment in which the movement led by Lefebvre has separated itself by a clean break with the Church. A Christian never can, or should, take pleasure in a rupture.  [Ratzinger, deeply steeped in the Fathers, has the Fathers horror of schism.]  Even though it is absolutely certain the fault cannot be attributed to the Holy See, it is a duty for us to examine ourselves, as to what errors we have made, and which ones we are making even now. The criteria with which we judge the past in the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism must be used – as is logical – to judge the present as well.

One of the basic discoveries of the theology of ecumenism is that schisms can take place only when certain truths and certain values of the Christian faith are no longer lived and loved within the Church. The truth which is marginalized becomes autonomous, remains detached from the whole of the ecclesiastical structure, and a new movement then forms itself around it. We must reflect on this fact: that a large number of Catholics, far beyond the narrow circle of the Fraternity of Lefebvre, see this man as a guide, in some sense, or at least as a useful ally. It will not do to attribute everything to political motives, to nostalgia, or to cultural factors of minor importance. These causes are not capable of explaining the attraction which is felt even by the young, and especially by the young, who come from many quite different nations, and who are surrounded by completely distinct political and cultural realities. [Yes!   This is something Ratzinger clearly saw: young people who are without the baggage of the previous generation are attracted to traditional expressions of the faith.  It is interesting that even today we hear the tired mantra that the people who want the "old ways" are either elderly or are reaching back from a sense of nostalgia.  While that is true for some, I don't think it represents the motives of the majority.]  Indeed they show what is from any point of view a restricted and one-sided outlook; but there is no doubt whatever that a phenomenon of this sort would be inconceivable unless there were good elements at work here, which in general do not find sufficient opportunity to live within the Church of today.  [Yes... nearly no opportunity is admittedly not sufficient.]

For all these reasons, we ought to see this matter primarily as the occasion for an examination of conscience. We should allow ourselves to ask fundamental questions, about the defects in the pastoral life of the Church, which are exposed by these events. Thus we will be able to offer a place within the Church to those who are seeking and demanding it, and succeed in destroying all reason for schism. We can make such schism pointless by renewing the interior realities of the Church. There are three points, I think, that it is important to think about.  [And this is part of what the MP is all about.]

While there are many motives that might have led a great number of people to seek a refuge in the Traditional liturgy, [1] the chief one is that they find the dignity of the sacred preserved there. After the council there were many priests who deliberately raised “desacralization” to the level of a program, [Pay attention to what follows: Ratzinger describes a theological argument for the undermining of sacral liturgy.] on the plea that the New Testament abolished the cult of the Temple: the veil of the Temple which was torn from top to bottom at the moment of Christ’s death on the cross is, according to certain people, the sign of the end of the sacred. The death of Jesus, outside the City walls, that is to say, in the public world, is now the true religion. Religion, if it has any being at all, must have it in the nonsacredness of daily life, in love that is lived. Inspired by such reasoning, they put aside the sacred vestments; they have despoiled the churches as much as they could of that splendor which brings to mind the sacred; and they have reduced the liturgy to the language and the gestures of ordinary life, by means of greetings, common signs of friendship, and such things.  [Okay... does that not sound like the arguments used by H.E. Donald W. Trautman when he runs down the translation norms of Liturgiam authenticam and argues for liturgical language in the style of everyday common speech?]

There is no doubt that, with these theories and practices, they have entirely disregarded the true connection between the Old and the New Testaments: It is forgotten that this world is not the Kingdom of God, and that the “Holy One of God” (John 6:69) continues to exist in contradiction to this world; that we have need of purification before we draw near to Him; that the profane, even after the death and the Resurrection of Jesus, has not succeeded in becoming “the holy.” The Risen One has appeared, but to those whose heart has been opened to Him, to the Holy; He did not manifest Himself to everyone. It is in this way a new space has been opened for the religion to which all of us would now submit; this religion which consists in drawing near to the community of the Risen One, at whose feet the women prostrated themselves and adored Him. I do not want to develop this point any further now; I confine myself to coming straight to this conclusion: We ought to get back the dimension of the sacred in the liturgy. The liturgy is not a festivity; it is not a meeting for the purpose of having a good time. It is of no importance that the parish priest has cudgeled his brains to come up with suggestive ideas or imaginative novelties. The liturgy is what makes the Thrice-Holy God present amongst us; it is the burning bush; it is the Alliance of God with man in Jesus Christ, who has died and risen again. The grandeur of the liturgy does not rest upon the fact that it offers an interesting entertainment, but in rendering tangible the Totally Other, whom we are not capable of summoning. He comes because He wills. In other words, the essential in the liturgy is the mystery, which is realized in the common ritual of the Church; all the rest diminishes it. Men experiment with it in lively fashion, and find themselves deceived, when the mystery is transformed into distraction, when the chief actor in the liturgy is not the Living God but the priest or the liturgical director.  [As WDTPRS repeats incessantly, the true Actor in the sacred action of Holy Mass is Christ, the Hight priest: Christ as Head of the Body is seen in the priest, alter Christus; Christ the Body is the congregation united to the Head; together they are Christus totus.  Thus, we must be interiorly disposed and united to the action and obey the Church's norms so that Christ acts in our words and gestures.]

Aside from the liturgical questions, the central points of conflict at present are Lefebvre’s attack on [2] the decree which deals with religious liberty, and on the so-called spirit of Assisi. Here is where Lefebvre fixes the boundaries between his position and that of the Catholic Church today.

I need hardly say in so many words that what he is saying on these points is unacceptable. Here we do not wish to consider his errors, rather we want to ask ourselves where there is lack of clarity in ourselves. For Lefebvre what is at stake is the warfare against ideological liberalism, against the relativization of truth.  [Indeed, Ratzinger himself is now the world's most visible warrior against these blights.] Obviously we are not in agreement with him that – understood according to the Pope’s intentions – the text of the council or the prayer of Assisi were relativizing.  [That Assisi meeting was, on the other hand, admittedly a disaster in retrospect.]

It is a necessary task to defend the Second Vatican Council against Msgr. Lefebvre, as valid, and as binding upon the Church. Certainly there is a mentality of narrow views that isolate Vatican II and which has provoked this opposition. There are many accounts of it which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II.  [Keep in mind what Benedict XVI calls the "hermeneutic of continuity".  At the same time, let us not forget that Ratzinger had made the observation that not all Councils were useful.]

The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. 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; [One the other hand, I have never really been quite sure what a "pastoral" Council is.] 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.

This idea is made stronger by things that are now happening. That which previously was considered most holy – the form in which the liturgy was handed down – suddenly appears as the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited. [Which is why it MUST be reclaimed!] It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the council; on the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules, or even of the great truths of the faith – for instance, the corporal virginity of Mary, the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, the immortality of the soul, etc. – nobody complains or only does so with the greatest moderation. I myself, when I was a professor, have seen how the very same bishop who, before the council, had fired a teacher who was really irreproachable, for a certain crudeness of speech, was not prepared, after the council, to dismiss a professor who openly denied certain fundamental truths of the faith.

All this leads a great number of people to ask themselves if the Church of today is really the same as that of yesterday, or if they have changed it for something else without telling people.  [This is an important point.  To a certain extent it matters not what is on the pages of the Council's documents.  The way the Church and the Faith are presented in many parishes and Catholic schools leaves the impression with people that something is now profoundly different.] The one way in which Vatican II can be made plausible is to present it as it is; one part of the unbroken, the unique Tradition of the Church and of her faith.

In the spiritual movements of the postconciliar era, there is not the slightest doubt that frequently there has been an  [3] obliviousness, or even a suppression, of the issue of truth: Here perhaps we confront the crucial problem for theology and for pastoral work today.

The “truth” is thought to be a claim that is too exalted, a “triumphalism” that cannot be permitted any longer. You see this attitude plainly in the crisis that troubles the missionary ideal and missionary practice. If we do not point to the truth in announcing our faith, and if this truth is no longer essential for the salvation of Man, then the missions lose their meaning. In effect the conclusion has been drawn, and it has been drawn today, that in the future we need only seek that Christians should be good Christians, Muslims good Muslims, Hindus good Hindus, and so forth. If it comes to that, how are we to know when one is a “good” Christian, or a “good” Muslim?

The idea that all religions are – if you talk seriously – only symbols of what ultimately is incomprehensible is rapidly gaining ground in theology, and has already penetrated into liturgical practice. When things get to this point, faith is left behind, because faith really consists in the fact that I am committing myself to the truth so far as it is known. So in this matter also there is every motive to return to the right path.

If once again we succeed in pointing out and living the fullness of the Catholic religion with regard to these points, we may hope that the schism of Lefebvre will not be of long duration.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

On this last point, I have often observed how in clerical circles, expecially among clerics with clout, there is a mental divorce between what is "dogmatic" and what is "pastoral", as if those two essential dimensions of ministry are in conflict.  There is a divorce between being "intelligent" and, again, "pastoral", a divorce between "authority" and "pastoral".  The idea is that to be "smart" and "law-abiding" is actually to be "mean", and to avoid distinctions and or too much erudition is "nice".  And because the chief aim of a priest, in the same eyes of these clerics with clout, is to be a "nice guy", therefore priests who are smart and law-abiding, well-educated and faithful are automatically looked at with suspicion.  They are relegated to the status of second-class clerics, problems to be dealt with, men to be controlled.  In the meantime, ecclesiastical discipline in parishes, marriage tribunals, institutions of learning breaks down because it is, after all, necessary to be "pastoral".

It is absolutely critical for those who are deeply interested in traditional things to demonstrate their love of the "pastoral" especially through works of mercy, spiritual and corporal.  It important for "traditionalists" to be cordial and kind to clout wielding clerics because they are going to be held to different standards.

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56 Responses to FLASHBACK: 1988 – Ratzinger on the Lefebvre “schism”

  1. Fr. Pasley says:

    Thanks again Father, what a magnificent reminder. I had forgotten about this response of Cardinal Ratzinger. Your final two paragraphs hit the nail on the head. You are absolutely correct.
    By the way, happy feast day of St. Isadore the Farmer and we cannot forget his dear wife Saint Maria Cabeza.

  2. Edgar Fernandez says:

    Excellent post! I think one of the reasons why our once 95%+ Catholic region of Latin America is gradually eroding towards protestantism is our fear to proclaim that Catholicism is the one and only true path to salvation and thus we loose the anchor in which build our evangelization.

    It is interesting but sad to see the Christian sects that are constantly growing in Latin America keep a lot of the outer reverence and respect in their conduct during their “church services” while we as Catholics no longer reflect about the truly wonderful event that takes place at the altar as God himself comes down in the consecrated Host.

    Its no wonder that the holy father chose Chile to give this speech as our subcontinent’s faith has been battered for the past 40 years from within (liberation theology) and from outside (active proselytism from several protestant sects or others like the mormons).

  3. Bruno Maria says:

    What a holy, humble and brilliant mind our Holy Father has… everytime I read this man I wonder if the return address is “Pearly Gates”.

  4. RC2 says:

    Fr. Z., on your last point, the Pope himself addresses this very thing in #29 of Sacramentum Caritatis. He sums it up: “one should begin by assuming that the fundamental point of encounter between the law and pastoral care is love for the truth.”

  5. I am not Spartacus says:

    It is worth noting that The Way,The Truth,and The Life was Himself pastoral in His approach. Apart from Jesus and His Church, what can we do?

    In more than two score years since the Council I have yet to go to a Mass that is like the one described in S.C.

    The Churches I have been to are noisier than my local library. If it were not for the high probability that my wife would brain me, I might say to the persons in the pew in front of me – “Excuse me. Are my silent prayers disturbing your conversation?”

  6. Andrew Fanco says:

    We are truly blessed to have such a brilliant and gifted (by God of course) man as our Supreme Pontiff!
    May God grant him many years as the Commander-in-Chief of the Church Militant!

  7. Tom S. says:

    WOW… I am awestruck. Pope Ratzinger is an intellectual titan. I am completely overwhelmed by the strength and clarity of his remarks. Not only is this speech brilliant, but it so clearly worded and presented that it is easy to understand, even for a layman like me. And better yet, it is decidedly unambiguous.

    If the forthcoming motu proprio on the 1962 mass is this clear and strong….

  8. Nathan says:

    +JMJ
    Greetings, Father. You wrote, “It important for ‘traditionalists’ to be cordial and kind to clout wielding clerics because they are going to be held to different standards.” This is, of course, right on the money. I would also submit that it has no small part in the attitude of the “bitter traditionalist.”

    I have to tell my children (and myself at least as much) that God never promised that life on this earth would be fair. Perhaps all of us who love the richness and the fullness of the Catholic Faith expressed especially in the traditional liturgy may need to pray for the grace to live up to the standards you clearly articulate.

    In Christ,

  9. Somerset '76 says:

    Coming as I do with a past history of two decades’ support of the Society, I would suggest to its critics that the way to counter the cogency of its arguments is not to hastily dismiss them, paste on the “schismatic” tag, and be done with it.

    There are real reasons they think as they do, assess the situation in the Church the way they see it, and thus act accordingly: it’s a pretty tightly constructed paradigm, centered on the theme of the abrupt discontinuity in all aspects of our religion with its past at the time of and following Vatican II. Liturgy, governance, doctrinal emphasis, political philosophy: all of this has changed so dramatically that many, and not just in SSPX circles, do not hesitate to speak of a rupture of the Church hierarchy, including the last several Popes, from the integral Catholic patrimony. They have written volumes upon volumes making their case in all these areas, a case that, at its heart, says: We are only continuing to say and do what our forefathers said and did in the way they said and did things, and must do so even in spite of our present leaders if need be.

    The challenge, then, for those who reject the Society’s approach — particularly those in Magisterial authority — is to show just how it is that, as Pope John Paul II said in 1988′s Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, the preconciliar understandings of theology and all else are an “incomplete” notion of Tradition. How is holding onto the old language, the old Scholastic philosophy, the understandings of dogma and morals persisting for centuries, now all of a sudden wrong?

    There’s more to the point but this suffices to establish that to this day, no one has authoritatively taken the Society’s issues, one by one, and shown where its holding on to preconciliar views is now somehow wrong. And until that happens, it will continue to persist on the path that it’s been on for over thirty years.

  10. danphunter1 says:

    Dear Father,
    Many thanks for this gem of truth spoken by the greatest champion of truth this side of Heaven.
    Most of the prople I know or have met at traditional Catholic churches are exceedingly cordial.
    They are very humble and very charitable.There are a few,though who exhibit a toxicity when it comes to Our Holy Father and previous Holy Father’s and we must always speak up against this.
    God bless you and thank you for your apostalate.

  11. woodyjones says:

    With respect to the demography of those favoring the traditional liturgy, I can report that Fr. John Berg, FSSP, celebrated the traditional mass last night at Our Lady of Walsingham church in Houston to a substantially full church (without any prior advertising) and then gave a talk afterwards in the parish hall to an appreciative audience. In both cases many large young families were in attendance, including that of the layman host, who had a small offspring on his hip as he introduced Father Berg for the talk. Fr. Berg will meet with Archbishop DiNardo today, and prayers for the success of that meeting are earnestly solicited.

  12. Todd says:

    The Holy Father is a sensible and thoughtful man, a good pope for us today.

    My only comment is on your Trautman comment. It is possible to have a heightened vernacular expression of the Roman Missal without a “slavish” loyalty to the Latin original. I think it’s quite possible to achieve prose that lifts above the everyday language of the people and not have a sometimes obsessive need on alignment with the official text of Roman Missal III.

    To give Trautman his due, he’s not casting the situation as a choice of two options. Ideally, we’d have a larger and more substantial Roman Missal, with prayers harmonized for a three-year Lectionary cycle.

    I think it’s very possible to take a logical and theological stand against the rush job of Roman Missal I, against Liturgiam Authenticam, and against the rather limited scope of the current Roman Missal III. We need better translations. We also need prayers composed in the vernacular, so that the best of these can be subsumed into the universal Roman tradition, and so enrich the liturgy for all.

  13. Henry Edwards says:

    Dan: My observations agree with yours. I get out and around a reasonable amount, and just never see any more friendly and congenial people than those I spend the hour after each TLM with. Incidentally, most are active in their home parishes — ours is an indult Mass — and attend the Novus Ordo Mass with the same devotion and (at least at daily Mass when it’s quieter than Sunday) prayerful participation. In my (rather considerable) TLM experience, the separatist types are nowhere near as numerous as the references to them we see.

  14. Henry Edwards says:

    Woody, about those demographics: Anyone who thinks that orthodox and traditional Catholicism is primarily a refuge of the nostalgic and elderly ought to slip into a local indult Mass and take a look at the vigorous young congregation they are likely to see there — with bunches of well-behaved young children — together with just enough “more mature” Catholics like me for wholesome leavening. They might hang around afterwards to experience the refreshing sense of community and camaraderie typical of traditional young Catholics who are unencumbered by the baggage carried around by many older Catholics. And I can’t help remarking that it’s just the opposite at the “progressive” gatherings I’ve sometimes strayed into. Where do these inverted misconceptions come from?

  15. Brian Sudlow says:

    Somerset,
    I would love to see a point-by-point analysis of the SSPX positions, precisely because they have some very good points to make. However, the SSPX hold to their positions as points of faith. Indeed, that is how they justify their conduct: they are performing what Archbishop Lefebvre called ‘Operation Survival’. Therefore, any person who argues against their theological positions is ipso facto arguing against the faith!

    The fact is that you cannot get rid of ecclesial authority; you can only displace its location (into the Biblical texts, philosophy, science, or the texts of the Church’s Magisterium interpreted privately). When SSPX condemn recent magisterial propositions on the basis of older propositions, they appear to adopt the authority of the old proposition and apply it mistakenly to their own theological reasoning. The authority of the Ecclesia docens, the Teaching Church, then seems to be trumped by the authority of an Ecclesia legens, the Reading Church (Fr Z, is that participle correct?).

    If you follow the SSPX argument, then the last guarantee of the faith is theological expertise and no longer the divine character of the Church’s teaching function as a gift of the Holy Spirit. I have great sympathy with many of the SSPX’s arguments from a rational and speculative point of view, but we cannot rob the Teaching Church of its authority and invest it elsewhere. The problem of continuity is a real one, but the SSPX solution is a false one.
    Brian.

  16. Todd: While I agree with your observation about the Holy Father, I couldn’t disagree more with your other observations.

    First, what I do here in the WDTPRS project is offer versions adhering slavishly to the Latin so as to provide a crowbar for people to dig in. No one involved in the new official translation of the has suggested they are using a “slavish” approach. Nor does LA call for a “slavish” rendering of prayers. You use words like “slavish” and “obsessive”, which are think are not grounded in reality.

    Second, His Excellency Bishop Trautman is suggesting that liturgical prayer ought to be connected to the way people speak. The result would be a constantly shifting model for liturgical prayer. I will give you this: perhaps H.E. really thinks that the shifting model and everyday expressions accurately convey the content of the Latin prayers. He would be wrong, but I will grant the possibility that maybe he thinks that.

    Third, while it is possible, nay rather, necessary to take a stand against the 1973 “rush job”, I don’t think that goes nearly far enough. It wasn’t just a rush job. It was a theologically motivated hatchet job, a purposeful distortion of the content of the Latin prayer that goes way beyond the need for the haste felt in the 1970′s. While it is possible to take a dim view of the older norms for translations, I cannot say the same for LA. We know the “fruits” of the older norms. The newer norms have yet to produce a translation in a finally approved form. Moreover, whereas the previous norms were put together in the dark, the newer norms were put together in light of past experience.

    Finally, what we need is an accurate translation of the books as they are before we think about adaptations. We need to work with the paradigm before seeing where the paradigm can take us. This is something that takes place over time. Inculturation has proper starting points which may not be logically reversed.

  17. Todd says:

    Fr Z, thanks for the reply.

    You’re right on point one. My inaccuracy shows that both you and I tend to get passionate about these matters and spread our criticism a little wide of the mark at times.

    If Bishop Trautman suggests the English (or whatever language) should be connected with the way people speak, he’s not saying it should sound exactly like that. You and I, as two examples, speak English the way people speak it. But as educated men, our use of vocabulary and grammar is a bit different from common street slang, or even the way people speak on sit-coms or at the ballpark. In other words, I think we can avoid the slang, but adhere to an American English formality (for the US, for example) without getting into language that’s off-putting. I don’t recall Bishop Trautman ever making a case for including “everyday expressions” in the formal liturgical prayers. I think he and others are often caricatured in that way. On that point, I think you’re wrong.

    CCC 2478 would seem to mitigate against suggesting a malicious intent behind the ICEL work of 167-75). Progressives might counter that Liturgiam Authenticam is another hatchet job. I think we need to get past the accusations, and move on to the best work for the liturgy.

    On point four, I’m pretty much in agreement. I would’ve liked to see the Vox Clara/new ICEL work applied to the priest’s prayers of the Mass before moving on to the Ordo Missae. If we have several years of working with the LA paradigm before moving on to the more challenging stuff of a rememorization project for the people in the pews, that would have been more wise, imo.

    Lastly, I’d say that perhaps not enough thought was put into the formulation of the Roman Missal III itself. You didn’t touch my suggestion that it needs to be expanded for a closer harmonization with the Lectionary. I don’t see that argument being made much, but I think it needs to be. If the Italians, ICEL, and other language groups are composing their own prayers, then the CDWDS probably needs to wake up and address the issue for the next edition of the Missal.

    Enjoy the day!

  18. RBrown says:

    To me the question is primarily one of culture. Literate people let writing influence the way they speak, not the other way around.

  19. o.h. says:

    Mr. Edwards,

    Regarding the traditional Mass and the well-behaved children, I recently attended for the first time in my life the traditional Mass. I sat in the back with my oldest child, having been afraid to bring anyone younger for fear of disrupting the reverential setting. Before Mass was halfway through, some extremely rambunctious young boys, out-of-sorts and dreadfully behaved, were being wrangled by their parents in the pew near us (having been removed from a more frontal pew).

    Honestly I was terribly relieved to see that “traditionalist Catholic” children who are having a bad day behave no differently than my own. I’ll be happy to bring the whole family next time (this Thursday, I hope–it would be the first Ascension Thursday of my life actually observed on a Thursday).

  20. Jason says:

    Hi Father. I enjoy your blog and especially this post. You made some important comments regarding the nature of Vatican II as a ‘pastoral council.’ Well, I’m a seminarian in a major US orthodox seminary and took a course on the documents of Vatican II this past semester. Our professor is brilliant and 100% solid. I just want to share some notes from that class. In it he discusses the nature of Vatican II as a pastoral council.

    “A major theme of Vatican II was an attempt to make the Church more pertinent/relevant to the modern world, which had for the previous couple of centuries drifted to a mentality that religion and the Church ought to be relegated to the subcultures and the simple. It was not an attempt to conform the Church to the world, but the other way around. Vatican II is authentically viewed as the Church attempting to speak to the world more clearly and in that way be considered an “update”. Cardinal Ratzinger recognized that in the 19th century the Church was being viewed as subjective and private and therefore could not be a determinate force in history. The Council wished to challenge this.
    Ratzinger also acknowledged that prior to the Council the Church lived too much like a ghetto, too closed in on itself. One of the Council’s chief aims was to take the Gospel to the world. Some criticize Vatican II because it saw itself as a ‘pastoral council’ and for the first time in history an ecumenical council was called without a clear and present (heretical) threat being made on the well-being of the Church. The notion of being ‘pastoral’, first of all, is not opposed to doctrine as some would think. In fact, the two are complimentary. To be pastoral is to be living out our (doctrinal) faith—so in a way the pastoral envelops and presupposes the doctrinal. In Vatican II, as a ‘pastoral Council,’ we see the teaching office of the bishops (the doctrinal element)—which is meant for and at the service of the salvation of mankind (the pastoral element)—being more fully actualized.”

  21. Luca says:

    Excellent, Father, thank you very much both for Ratzinger’s quotation and your statement about “nice guys” priest: do you know that their behaviour is the same towards educated lay people? When I was a child, several “pastoral” priests told me I should be “like the otherrs” and stop thinking of studying too much; they said: “Bible says: it is better a living fool than a dead doctor” (they misquoted Ecclesiastes)!!!
    By the way: do you mind if I call him Ecclesiastes rather than Kohelet?

  22. Anna says:

    Jason – your professor sounds neither brilliant nor 100% solid, but merely typical and capable of spewing and perpetuating the same tired and false notions about the church prior to Vatican II. The Church was not “closed in on itself” but going through a huge growth spurt especially in mission countries. You may want to expand your reading and research and not rely on that professor to give you the facts because he obviously has an agenda.

  23. RBrown says:

    CCC 2478 would seem to mitigate against suggesting a malicious intent behind the ICEL work of 167-75). Progressives might counter that Liturgiam Authenticam is another hatchet job. I think we need to get past the accusations, and move on to the best work for the liturgy.

    Todd,

    It’s not a matter of accusations, but of history. NB: Cardinal Antonelli’s remarks:

    http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/newmass/histica.htm

    I recommend Ratzinger’s Memoirs and The Spirit of the Liturgy.

  24. Cerimoniere says:

    CCC 2478 reads as follows:

    “To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

    “Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.” (St. Ignatius, Spritual Exercises.)”

    I would further point out that this paragraph comes in the section “Offences Against Truth.” To impute bad motives to people on the basis of their explicit statements and writings, and to point out the contradictions between opposing statements or between some statments and their actions, is hardly rash judgment.

    There is an ample record to make it clear that many of those involved in the earlier liturgical translations were opposed to the mind of the Church, and were perfectly aware that what they were doing furthered that opposition. To say so is simply to state a known truth, not to offend against it.

  25. Jason says:

    Anna, In roughly the first half of my professor’s comments on the purpose of Vatican II, including the section you criticized as being ‘false,’ is actually a paraphrasing of the preface of Cardinal Ratzinger’s ‘Introduction to Christianity’ (p.13). I’ll quote it. “This is precisely what the Second Vatican Council had inteded: to endow Christianity once more witht he power to shape history. The 19th century had seen the formulation of the opinion that religion belonged to the subjective, private realm andshould have its place there. But precisely because it was to be categorized as something subjective, it could not be a determing factor in the overall course of history and in the epochal decisions that had to be made as part of it. Now following the Council, it was supposed to become evident again that the faith of Christians embraces all of life, that it stands in the midst of history and in time and has relebance beyond the realm of subjective notions. Christianity–at least from the viewpoint of the Catholic Chruch–was trying to emerge again from the GHETTO to which it had been relegated since the 19th century and to become inolved once more in the world at large.”

    Zenit article ZE04020406 provides a slightly different translation “Christianity tried — at least from the point of view of the Catholic Church — to come out of the ghetto in which it was ENCLOSED since the 19th century, and to be fully involved again in the world.” I don’t know which is a more authentic translation–nor does it matter when addressing the main point which was that the Church was in a ghetto and needed make more contact with the world.

  26. John says:

    ‘A major theme of Vatican II was an attempt to make the Church more pertinent/relevant to the modern world, which had for the previous couple of centuries drifted to a mentality that religion and the Church ought to be relegated to the subcultures and the simple. It was not an attempt to conform the Church to the world, but the other way around.’ There is a straightforward contradiction in these words! An attempt to make the Church more pertinent/relevant to the world is an attempt to conform it to the world, not the other way round! The talk by Card. Ratzinger given above makes valuable points, but is still fundamentally an evasion of the underlying issue in the debate between the Roman authorities and the SSPX. This issue is the truth of Lefebvre’s criticisms of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo mass. The principal criticisms of Vatican II are three. The first is that the drafters of the documents were theologians who introduced deliberate ambiguities into them in order to be able to use them later to undermine the Catholic faith. The evidence for this is that the important theologians in question – Kung, Rahner, Schillebeeckx – all openly renounced the faith after the Council, and not just Catholic teaching, but the basic notion of the divinity of Christ; and that Schillebeeckx publicly admitted that this deliberate introduction of ambiguity had happened. The second is that Vatican II’s clear statements about adapting the Church and her teachings to the world are incompatible with basic Catholic teaching, and with the basic notion that the teachings of the Church are divine revelation – it is insane to suppose that a divine message should be adapted to the world. The third is that the teaching of the Council on religious freedom is incompatible with Catholic tradition. This does not involve any picking and choosing among Church teachings, because Lefebvre’s argument is that the conciliar teaching is professedly not infallible, and thus that it has less weight than the prior teaching it contradicts; since this prior teaching is repeated with great insistence by many different popes in many encyclicals it should probably be called infallible, and is certainly irreformable. One answer to this is that the teaching does not contradict those encyclicals; but if this is so, whence the opposition to Lefebvre’s maintaining the position of those encyclicals? The criticism of the Novus Ordo liturgy is that it was composed by people who rejected Catholic teaching on the sacraments, and built this rejection into their work, so that the new liturgy does not express crucial Catholic teaching, and is a bad liturgy on that account. the evidence for this is the careful textual examination of the prayers of the new liturgy done by Lauren Pristas, and the fact that the designer of the new liturgy, Abp. Bugnigni, was on his own admission removed from his post by Paul VI for being a Freemason. In addition to the evidence for these separate claims is the fact that Vatican II was followed by a calamitous and historically utterly unprecedented collapse of faith and morals in the Church. I should say that I have no links with the SSPX, and am not defending Lefebvre’s consecration of bishops – that is an entirely separate issue. What I am saying is that Card. Ratzinger’s talk above does not address Lefebvre’s criticisms of the Council and the postconciliar liturgy, and that I suspect the reason he does not do so is that these criticisms are clear statements of the truth. Until these truths are admitted, any hope of reversing the decline in the Church is a vain one.

  27. in clerical circles, expecially among clerics with clout, there is a mental divorce between what is “dogmatic” and what is “pastoral”, as if those two essential dimensions of ministry are in conflict. There is a divorce between being “intelligent” and, again, “pastoral”, a divorce between “authority” and “pastoral”.

    Pastoral comes from Pastor, meaning Shepherd. A Shepherd carries a crook which he uses to discipline and guide his flock, beating wayward sheep and pulling them with it by the neck. Being pastoral should never be synonymous to leniency. If ever, the word should mean discipline and getting beaten whenever one goes astray.

  28. Jeff says:

    Todd has been a public defender of dissent on issues like priesthood for women and other matters as well…

    I think Todd’s idea of what Catholicism IS affects his idea of what the liturgy should be. And when he says that we need something besides finger-pointing, I think he means that we should “interpret” theological “variation” as the sort of innocuous quarrelling that goes on when Brothers in the Faith argue.

    Well, of course, Father is right and the present day translations are in part the result of beliefs which are not Catholic and keeping in mind that the dissent that Todd defends is illegitimate and inimical to Christ is precisely what we need to do and precisely what the folks who feel as he does do not want us to do.

    Keeping this in mind is perforce exclusivist and therefore offensive to many.

    We have excellent reason to feel certain that many of the opinions about liturgy which Todd espouses are rooted precisely in theological differences which are vital and unbridgeable. Todd would have us be tolerant and not look too closely at those connections. Let’s look closely anyway.

  29. Todd: My inaccuracy shows that both you and I tend to get passionate about these matters and spread our criticism a little wide of the mark at times.

    You may kindly speak for yourself on this matter. I am right, so far.

    I don’t recall Bishop Trautman ever making a case for including “everyday expressions” in the formal liturgical prayers. I think he and others are often caricatured in that way. On that point, I think you’re wrong.

    I used the phrase “everyday expressions” in the sense of the way people speak in daily circumstances, not in the sense of slang.

    Progressives might counter that Liturgiam Authenticam is another hatchet job.

    They might indeed. They would be dead wrong, of course. If nothing else, the 7 years of this WDTPRS project of placing the Latin and lame-duck ICEL versions side by side reveals that the content of the Latin prayers was systematically “bowdlerized” of theological concepts they found inappropriate, especially of sacral language and matters of sin and grace.

    …If we have several years of working with the LA paradigm before moving on to the more challenging stuff of a rememorization project for the people in the pews, that would have been more wise, imo.

    years“??? for memorization? I think people are smarter than that.

  30. Jordan Potter says:

    John said: “Abp. Bugnigni, was on his own admission removed from his post by Paul VI for being a Freemason.”

    Not that I want to derail this discussion onto the allegation that Bugnigni was a Freemason, but I just want to make the observation that it is nothing more than an allegation. He admitted he was removed for allegedly being a Freemason. He did not admit that he actually was a Freemason.

    In my view, the whole Bugnigni/Freemason thing is a nonstarter, a rabbit trail. The liturgical reform that he oversaw and spearheaded can and should be criticised on many, many grounds, but the unproven Freemason allegation is frankly a case of well-poisoning.

  31. Dcn. Adam van der Meer says:

    Todd – If we have several years of working with the LA paradigm before moving on to the more challenging stuff of a rememorization project for the people in the pews

    This would be the typical stuff about the people in the pews being stooopid. It will not take that long for the people to learn and memorize the new parts. Especially since most parishes use disposable missalettes or, even if not, could very easily and cheaply produce “worship aids” with all of the parts on it. Good musical settings for the new parts will also help people to retain them, as music is often an aid in memorization.

  32. Henry Edwards says:

    Jeff: The sudden reappearance here of Catholic blogdom’s general all-purpose all-dissenter reminds me of a new pastor who upon arrival in the parish decided to go through the pew hymnals and cross out with a big black marker all those hymns that were plainly heretical or blatantly contrary to Catholic belief. However, he quickly found that there were just too many such offenders and too many of those faith-sapping hymnals (all duly “published with ecclesiastical approbation”, of course) for the task to be feasible.

    Therefore, recalling the venerable Jewish practice of the scapegoat that bore the sins of all, he selected just one particularly obnoxious ditty in the hymnal and directed the music director — whose favorite parish crowd-pleaser that very one was — that it never again be heard at Mass there. It never was, and thereby performed admirably its duty as the scapegoat for all the other worthies that might have been selected for the role.

    In a similar vein, I wonder whether you might agree that it’s good for even a faithful blog like this one to have a selected general all-purpose dissenter from the faith, to serve as a scapegoat thereby freeing us from the plague of others who might promote the same aberrant views. If so, perhaps we ought not be too hard on him as he performs his designated duty.

  33. Brian Mershon says:

    Jason has made some good points that attempt to show a hermeneutic of continuity. Personally, I do not know if Cardinal Ratzinger’s “Principles of Catholic Theology” is as clear-cut and sound as many make it out to be, but maybe I’m just obtuse. It seems the Baltimore Catechism No. 3 and/or the Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism explain Catholic doctrine much more clearly and concisely than Cardinal Ratzinger’s (Pope Benedict’s) tome on Catholic theology.

    Then again, they probably have different purposes.

    I do not know if I agree with the premise about all the bad and terrible things in the post-Conciliar Church. I guess it would depend upon what country and continent we are talking about.

    Dr. Thomas Woods has shown in one of his books that Catholicism in the United States, all the way up to 1965 was fluorishing exponentially in every measurable category. Check out “Index of Leading Catholic Indicators” for an assessment. I certainly wouldn’t want to compare how things have turned out in 2007 in the U.S. Church with 1957. Either the Council attempted to make the Faith more robust and relevant or it didn’t. If this was the attempt, it failed measurably. All one has to do is read Catholic news daily to see that a great many priests and bishops and even Cardinals no longer hold the Catholic Faith.

    Iota Unum, Index of Leading Catholic Indicators, Michael Davies’ books, and many of Archbishop Lefebvres arguments–aside from the consecrations of the bishops–are being shown every day to be more and more true–not less so.

    Has anyone rebuked or answered these arguments? Haven’t seen it yet. And we can always rely upon the tried and true.

    “You will know a tree by its fruits.” Either the Council was a miserable failure, or at best, wholly irrelevant and ineffective.

    The only true “renewal” taking place in the Church is in so-called “conservative” dioceses like Lincoln, NE and some select others and in the traditional Latin Mass communities. They are the only ones having children. They are among the few passing on the Faith of our Fathers that our shepherds, including those at Vatican II and after, refused to pass on to us ddue to their “more improved” ideas.

    You will know a tree by its fruits. Vatican II is ancient history. Let’s move along and teach the Faith, primarily with Trent and Vatican I as our guides. One cannot go wrong there. The multiple “interpretations” and “hermeneutic” approaches of “what Vatican II really means” will not be worked out in our lifetimes.

    Let’s pass on the Faith of our Fathers to our children. This is exactly why priests should be rooted in St. Thomas and why I would recommend very few other (if any) seminaries to young men discerning their vocation to the priesthood other than the FSSP and the ICR. Seminarians need to learn the Faith–what we know–not engage in the theological opinions of the 1960s and ’70s and the modernist theologians before them.

  34. Dcn. Adam van der Meer says:

    From Brian Mershon: Vatican II is ancient history. Let’s move along and teach the Faith, primarily with Trent and Vatican I as our guides. One cannot go wrong there. The multiple “interpretations” and “hermeneutic” approaches of “what Vatican II really means” will not be worked out in our lifetimes.

    Can we nominate people for the Sour Grapes award?

  35. Brian Mershon says:

    Deacon van der Meer,

    Go ahead. Don’t really understand your comment, but be my guest. And while doing so, how about answering or rebutting the content of the post you think is “sour grapes.”

    I can teach my children the Faith, if I desired, by completely ignoring any one document of Vatican II, ignoring Pope JPP II encyclicals, ignoring the new Catechism and teaching them the full gamut of catechisms of Baltimore and the Roman Catehcism, never take them to a Novus Ordo (if that were possible, please God!)and not read them the daily news from the Pope’s journeys, and still produce faithful, courageous soldiers/apostles for Christ than those raised with the new ecclesiology and emphasis on Vatican II.

    If most people haven’t even read (including the majority of priests) pre-Vatican II encyclicals and contents dated prior to Vatican II, who is going to make this “hermeneutic of continuity” come about asked for in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. Right now, the only English priests I’ve seen include Fr. William Most, Fr. John Hardon, Fr. Brian Harrison, some priests of the FSSP)and ICR and of course the Institute of the Good Shepherd.

    Priests who have never read anything but the Bible (with the historical critical method of deconstruction), Vatican II and the Fathers of the Church without St. Thomas as a philosophical grounding will NEVER be able to perform this take of harmonizing Vatican II into Tradition and showing the various levels of teaching of each of its documents in light of Tr Tradition.

    Too much that is considered “orthodox” is being passed off even in so-called “conservative” parishes and diocese. Why not stick with what our Fathers passed down to us?

    Sour grapes? Maybe… I see it as trying to do what I can to pass on the Faith to my children. The Second Vatican COuncil , by itself, was never intended to be a complete exposition of the Catholic Faith. Indeed, it is evident it was not.

  36. Henry Edwards says:

    Dcn. Adam: I wonder whether Mr. Mershon is not simply repeating things that “Pope Benedict the Great” — please, let me hereby claim original credit for first internet use of this designation that someday will be universal — has said in various ways. In particular, is not the terminology of “hermeneutic of continuity” and “reconnecting with tradition” simply a palatable way of saying (for post Vatican II ears) that we ought to return to the Faith as it was once generally accepted and taught throughout the Church?

  37. Dcn. Adam van der Meer says:

    If most people haven’t even read (including the majority of priests) pre-Vatican II encyclicals and contents dated prior to Vatican II, who is going to make this “hermeneutic of continuity” come about asked for in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta.

    Brian, it seems there are so many points to address in your post that I cannot even think where to begin. The overall tone though is very negative. Negative on modern seminarians (except for those in ICK or FSSP), modern priests, modern seminaries, modern everything. Allow me to say just this. If you read anything that Joseph Ratzinger has written (perhaps other than Intro to Catholic Theology, which I’m not sure was ever meant to be compared on the same level as Baltimore Catechism III), you will see that he has a firm grasp of history and all that came before, as well as Vatican II. And he knows how Vatican II is to be interpreted in light of all that came before and is in the process of doing that for us now. His most recent book, “Jesus of Nazareth” is a monumental effort to clarify and redirect Catholic scriptural exegesis. The Motu Proprio (which perhaps you’ve given up on) will also continue what Sacramentum Caritatis did in explaining what the liturgy really is, and so forth

    You say: “Why not stick with what our Fathers passed down to us?” — but our Fathers have handed down to us Vatican II also. We are in a time — near the end of it, I think, but nevertheless still in it — when we are still dealing with teh after-effects of a major Church council. Things are starting to settle down. The Holy Father is trying to guide us in this process. Perhaps there is a greater feeling of security in reading and accepting only what came before Vatican II. But I do not see how one can live according to that mindset without being a sedevacantist or something close to it, or thinking that the Holy Spirit abandoned the Church before all 16 of those documents (plus the new Code of Canon Law) were published.

    Were all Church councils beneficial? No, perhaps not entirely. But all have an important place in the history of the Church. And whether you or anyone likes it or not, Vatican II has had a very large, even permanent effect on the Church, leaving many current, existential problems for us to deal with. It will never be possible to go back to the way things were before, no matter how much you teach your children in that line. The Holy Spirit is still guiding the Church and will continue, through the Holy Father and the bishops, to steer us through this mire and into a more settled understanding of the Council and how it should affect the life and faith of the Church. That settled understanding will include what came before, not stop at it.

    I fully expect that you are going to discount all that I have just said — I am overly optimistic, ignorant, whatever. Have it your way.

  38. Dcn. Adam van der Meer says:

    Henry: In particular, is not the terminology of “hermeneutic of continuity” and “reconnecting with tradition” simply a palatable way of saying (for post Vatican II ears) that we ought to return to the Faith as it was once generally accepted and taught throughout the Church?

    I don’t think so, entirely. “Hermeneutic” implies an interpretation of something. Therefore, the idea is that Vatican II will be interpreted in light of the Tradition, not eclipsed by the Tradition, which is I think what Brian Mershon seems to be suggesting (by saying that what came before Vatican II was sufficient for communicating the faith, and apparently discounting the entirety of what Vatican II has given us). Please correct me if I have misunderstood you.

  39. Brian Mershon says:

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/mershon/051212

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/mershon/060404 Some of the same ground covered here from different angles–perhaps from a “tradition” hermeneutic of continuity.

  40. Brian Mershon says:

    “It will never be possible to go back to the way things were before, no matter how much you teach your children in that line.”

    If this statement is a summary conclusion of what you got from my post, then I really don’t know how to proceed. The true understanding and meaning of much of the Second Vatican Council teachings have been exhaustively analyzed and scrutinized, but very rarely from the perspective of a hermeneutic of continuity.

    For the record, I do not reject Vatican II, but I do believe that much of what it said was a product of the 1960s and and/or or is not a matter of faith and morals. Again, even though I have a master’s in theology and wrote my thesis on this ttopic (harmonizing Dignitatis Humanae with the Kingship of Christ), it is not my obligation to sort through the murky waters oof Vatican II for my children.

    Baltimore Catechisms and other pre-Conciliar catechisms, von Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, etc., work just fine. I do not at all doubt the current pope is trying to provide this “hermeneutic” perspective. The point is, while I am gr grateful, whether you think so or not, I really don’t see how that changes my original premise.

    I can teach my children the Faith from pre-Conciliar documents and miss not one thing of Faith and Morals that is essential for them to know. We can use traditional understandings and interpretations of Bible passages from the Fathers of the Church and ignore everything for the last 40 years. This will not harm their Faith one iota.

    But getting into all the theological speculation (even if it is necessary for the Church) is not my duty to my culidren. I doubt it should be the duty of seminary instructors for seminarians either.

    The Second Vatican Council advocated and recommended St. Thomas as the primary instructor for philosophy to seminary students. So did Leo XIII and other Popes?

    Is this being done ANYWHERE other than the FSSP or the ICR? Anywhere? Haven’t found it yet. If so, then I’ll recommend it.

    The texts of the Second Vatican Council cannot be read by themselves without understanding the Traditional teaching on the same subjects. If that is the case, then it is much better, in my humble opinion, to spend one’s time reading the Fathers of the Church, the Bible, St. Thomas and St. Augustine and the pre-Conciliar encyclicals and Denzigers than the Vatican II documents multiple times.

    Just my opinion. You might call it negative. I call it safe. If it is misguided or wrong, please show me how.

    Being a sedevacantist (like we all were between JPII and the current pope’s pontificates) has nothing whatsoever to do with what I am talking about.

    I agree with your definition of “hermeneutic.” The problem of course is that the trend toward Vatican II teaching or previous, and in many cases, infallible, teaching, depends upon the mind of the beholder. This is a game very few are qualified to engage in.

    I have read the Vatican II documents numerous times. Time to spend more time with the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and Vatican I and Trent and others for CLARITY.

    Does this make sense? Is this somehow unCatholic or disobedient?

    Do I lack a certain amount of trust in the post-Conciliar structure called the Church, especially many priests and bishops–certainly. And for good reason.

    I’m a product of the post-Conciliar catechesis and aftermath. I was lied to for years by priests and nuns and laymen.

  41. Brian Mershon says:

    Zenit article ZE04020406 provides a slightly different translation “Christianity tried—at least from the point of view of the Catholic Church—to come out of the ghetto in which it was ENCLOSED since the 19th century, and to be fully involved again in the world.” I don’t know which is a more authentic translation—nor does it matter when addressing the main point which was that the Church was in a ghetto and needed make more contact with the world.

    Jason, Of course this was the opinion of many. Reading the Index of Leading Catholic Indicators, statistically in the U.
    S., how has that worked out for the Church thus far?

    Perhaps you should consider discussing this “ghetto” (called Catholic culture) with Fr. Sam Weber, O.S.B., with whom I believe you are quite familiar.

    Whether or not the Church was in a “ghetto”, however one would define this term, prior to Vatican II, is not what is important. It is also not a matter of Faith and Morals for Catholics to believe this premise is true.

    So where does that leave us? I know you are not in control of what you read, but instead of reading one cardinals’ opinion on “Principles of Catholic Theology,” which is not an authoritative document, wouldn’t time be better spend reading the Sylllabus of Errors and/or the other great pre-Conciliar encyclicals that are authoritative?

    Just a question…

  42. RC2 says:

    For Brian Mershon: “If most people haven’t even read (including the majority of priests) pre-Vatican II encyclicals and contents dated prior to Vatican II, who is going to make this “hermeneutic of continuity” come about asked for in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta.”

    I’d wager that even fewer people (including the majority of priests) have read the Council of Trent, so I’m not sure where that leaves us.

    For everyone: I am going to ask a question I expect will draw ire, but I ask it sincerely and not in a spirit of contention. I’m a convert with no experience of the pre-Vatican II Church, and I came in largely because of JP II. If the Church prior to Vatican II was so healthy and strong, why did it crash and burn so quickly? If someone started preaching the Eucharist wasn’t the Eucharist to me, I’d protest his heresy, I wouldn’t doubt my own vocation, so the vast exodus from the seminaries we read about is always a bit mysterious to me.

    Isn’t it possible that when we blame Vat. II for everything we’re making the post hoc ergo propter hoc error? Western civilization in the late 20th century lost its faith and its confidence. Catholics are part of the world and influenced by it; we face the same struggles. Isn’t it possible that Vatican II was the Holy Spirit’s answer to the problems we face –not the cause? Greatest evangelists of my time in the Church have been JP II and Benedict –both emphatically men of Vatican II.

    Again, I’m asking sincerely.

  43. Dcn. Adam van der Meer says:

    Brian: Does this make sense? Is this somehow unCatholic or disobedient?

    Yes, it makes sense, but I wonder if your positions don’t verge somewhat on you being your own magisterium on certain matters. But no matter…

    Do I lack a certain amount of trust in the post-Conciliar structure called the Church, especially many priests and bishops—certainly. And for good reason.

    I’m a product of the post-Conciliar catechesis and aftermath. I was lied to for years by priests and nuns and laymen.

    OK, Brian, I understand this. First of all, forgive me if I have seen a bit callous in my tone. What I am trying to do is understand how I, as a future priest, can help you, and folks like you. To use labels, I would sympathize with many “traditionalist” concerns and positions, and I share your justified anger over the terrible catechesis that has been given over the past 40 years, having received it myself (and by the grace of God, like you, having been able to move beyond it into a true understanding of the faith).

    The problem that I have – and this problem is particularly acute for me, as a future priest, and one that I really want to find the answer to – is how can I ever hope to measure up to whatever expectations that you (or folks like you) might have? Because it seems that, on the basis of past experience, you have an automatic distrust for any priest or bishop who is not of a certain pedigree (ICK, FSSP, whatever). But that is not fair either. When will conditions be such that you can trust priests and bishops in general? When they go back to teaching from the Baltimore Catechism? I happen to like the Baltimore Catechism, and think it is useful for teaching children. But I have yet to find a resource, for example, for teaching older youth and adults, that is able to answer all of the complex problems we have in today’s world the way that the new Catechism or other Church documents do. I just don’t see how it is possible for anyone to go forward without taking into account the modern documents as well.

    I earnestly desire to be able to serve traditional Catholics as well as to strive to reach out to the more progressive types out there who are running after whatever tickles their ears. It is a complex task, especially when there is a great deal of complaining and lack of charity in the traditional movement. There is a great deal of complaining without really wanting to move forward to some sort of solution that takes into account the modern situation. Most of what I see is a rush backwards as far as materials used for teaching – but again, I don’t see how this can properly equip an adult to live in this world which is much more complex than it was in 1950 or before. Children, yes. Adults, no.

    This has all been a bit disorganized because I am in a hurry, but I would sincerely like to hear your reply to the above, which I offer in charity with a desire, as I have said, really to understand the problem and be able to respond to it. Many thanks.

  44. Janet says:

    To RC2:
    I too am a convert and my thoughts are really the same as yours. Vatican II was probably misinterpreted and poorly implemented, but as a Church Council, the Holy Spirit spoke through it. And for anyone to reject Vat.II is to deny the presence of the Holy Spirit that is within the church and guiding it.
    I’m still waiting to experience my first traditional Latin Mass, and look forward to it eagerly. But it will not ever replace the existing vernacular mass, and it will not negate Vat. II. The Latin Mass deserves the freedom to stand beside what we have now, (not replace it) for the benefit of the whole Church. And I hope and pray this happens soon.

    But Christ is alive and well in the Church even now, just as He was prior to Vat.II. Christ is also alive and well in a more muted and less grace-filled manner in the churches of our Protestant brothers and sisters. We have to keep our faith that Christ will indeed lead us ALL safely to Heaven if we allow Him to.
    I thank God for leading me to His true church, the Catholic Church, but I also know that we humans just can’t possibly see “the big picture” as God sees it, concerning so many things including Vatican II, etc.
    To me, the ‘sour grapes’ traditionalists who rant about Vatican II and the vernacular mass are being arrogant and not very trusting of God’s Divine Providence in guiding His Church safely to the end of time.

  45. Brian Mershon says:

    “OK, Brian, I understand this. First of all, forgive me if I have seen a bit callous in my tone.”

    Not a problem. No apology is necessary.

    “What I am trying to do is understand how I, as a future priest, can help you, and folks like you.”

    1. Listen and try to understand.
    2. Don’t categorize all traditionalists as “callous” and “sour grapes” traditionalists. We are each unique to ourselves. I have been called all sorts of things by traditionalists (a modernist) and “conservative” Catholics (schismatic) alike. We are not a group, as much as everyone likes to conveniently categorize us.
    3. Baptize our children soon after birth and do not wait until after Lent.
    4. Hold confessions as convenient times for the laypeople–not just your schedule. Before and/or after every daily Mass is a novel approach, but one I rarely see at Novus Ordo parishes and ALWAYS see at FSSP and ICR communities.
    5. Do not delegate tasks to laymen who are not qualified.
    6. Figure out how to provide authentic and affordable Catholic education to those of us on one income with multiple children. If you can figure it out, please pass the word along. Without priests and brothers and nuns teaching, I don’t see how it can be done.
    7. Communicate with all your parishioners (not on everything and not with everyone on every issue), but don’t make decisions that affect entire groups of people without input (or at least without looking like you’re getting input).
    8. Recognize today’s lay Catholic is much better educated than even the pre-Vatican II Catholic who simply obeyed, prayed and paid.
    9. Don’t imbibe from the diocesan priestly gossip line.
    10. Don’t believe everything people tell you about traditionalists–good or bad.

    “To use labels, I would sympathize with many “traditionalist” concerns and positions, and I share your justified anger over the terrible catechesis that has been given over the past 40 years, having received it myself (and by the grace of God, like you, having been able to move beyond it into a true understanding of the faith).

    The problem that I have – and this problem is particularly acute for me, as a future priest, and one that I really want to find the answer to – is how can I ever hope to measure up to whatever expectations that you (or folks like you) might have? Because it seems that, on the basis of past experience, you have an automatic distrust for any priest or bishop who is not of a certain pedigree (ICK, FSSP, whatever).”

    This is not true. I could move to an FSSP and ICR community right now if I wanted to. I telework and my boss wouldn’t care where I live. I have two diocesan priests who offer both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass. We have had ups and downs–and even a stint for a while at the SSPX chapel–but I have detected more of a lack of charity from fellow parishioners at our Novus Ordo parish than I ever have from priests or laymen attending the SSPX. They are not contrantly talking about liturgical abuses nor being liturgy cops because they are at peace.

    “But that is not fair either.”

    Your assessment is not fair. I asked specific questions about seminary traing and whether St. Thomas Aquinas was use primarily. I know some of the “orthodox” seminaries in the U.S. and I know this is not the case. I cannot help that. Just showing how Vatican II asked for one thing to happen, yet there is still nowhere in the U.S. (save the FSSP seminary) where this happens. This is not your fault. But it is not mine either.

    “When will conditions be such that you can trust priests and bishops in general?”

    Each are evaluated on what they say and what they do. Just like all others I encounter. I do not sit in judgment of everyone, but I also will not expose my children to any of the inanity and stupidity I experienced.

    Teach what the Church teaches. Worship the way the Church authorizes. Have confessions frequently available. There shouldn’t be too many problems.

    “When they go back to teaching from the Baltimore Catechism?” It doesn’t matter for me personally, because I have concluded that well into our 60s (we’re now in our early 40s and have been homeschooling for 12 years now), we’re going to have to educate them ourselves.

    “I happen to like the Baltimore Catechism, and think it is useful for teaching children.”

    This is not merely about the Baltimore Catechism. It is an analogy. We cannot have the hermeneutic of continuity when seminaries are still primarily teaching about Vatican II and its aftermath. What about Tradition and tradition? What about pre-Vatican II encyclicals that condemn the very same heresies and problems we have in the Church and society today?

    “But I have yet to find a resource, for example, for teaching older youth and adults, that is able to answer all of the complex problems we have in today’s world the way that the new Catechism or other Church documents do.”

    I’m not quite certain what “modern problems” we have today that have not been covered in the past.

    “I just don’t see how it is possible for anyone to go forward without taking into account the modern documents”
    as well.”

    What do you mean by “go forward”? Seriously, I am at a loss. I have a job in the secular world for a large international corporation that is godless and promotes, in some respects, the culture of death. What “going forward” do we need to do to be faithful Catholics?

    “I earnestly desire to be able to serve traditional Catholics as well as to strive to reach out to the more progressive types out there who are running after whatever tickles their ears.”

    Yes it is.

    “It is a complex task, especially when there is a great deal of complaining and lack of charity in the traditional movem
    ent.”

    Let’s try this for size. “It is a complex task, especially when there is a great deal of complaining and lack of charity among “conservative” or “orthodox” Catholics so-called, toward traditionalist Catholics, especially in blogosphere.”

    If this is a rash judgment (for example), isn’t your statement equally so?

    “There is a great deal of complaining without really wanting to move forward to some sort of solution that takes into account the modern situation.”

    You have lost me. What do you mean by “moving forward” and accounting for “the modern situation.” The “modern situation” where? Afghanistan? South America? Mexico? Russia? Former Soviet bloc countries? What “modern situation”? In the U.lS. In Canada? We just want to worship and pray and do apostolate in peace as our Fathers before us did so. We are called to be saints and help our family, friends and others build Christ’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” and to get to heaven, right? What is so unique about the “modern situation” (again, where?) that we have to “move forward”? What do you mean by moving forward?

    “Most of what I see is a rush backwards as far as materials used for teaching”

    You mean like the Bible? The Fathers of the Church? Should we teach our children Hegel, von Balthasar, de Lubac and Rahner?

    “= but again, I don’t see how this can properly equip an adult to live in this world which is much more complex than
    it was in 1950 or before.”

    Yes, the Church in the U.S. succumbed to the world by becoming like the world. The bastions were lowered and the filth flowed in. What are you talking about? Specifics please? This kind of talking is so general I cannot get my arms around it.

    “Children, yes. Adults, no.”

    Most adults don’t know the 10 Commandments or that the Mass is a sacrifice or why they need to go to confession. Theat would be a good start.

    “This has all been a bit disorganized because I am in a hurry, but I would sincerely like to hear your reply to the above, which I offer in charity with a desire, as I have said, really to understand the problem and be able to respond to it. Many thanks.”

    Thanks to you. Please e-mail me at bcmershon@juno.com to continue the dialogue/discussion.

  46. Henry Edwards says:

    Deacon Adam: I suspect we have no big disagreement, but I do wonder what you might give as specific examples of “what Vatican II has given us”. For I’m not sure I see that the anticipated fruits of the Council have yet materialized in the lives of many ordinary practicing Catholics.

    – For example, Vatican II promised a glorious revitalization of the liturgy. It’s true that in the 1965 Order of Mass we were given a slight simplification of the traditional Mass that was still beautiful and reverent but could be celebrated largely in the vernacular. But after a very few brief shining years it was replaced by a New Order that the Fathers of the Council surely never envisioned, and (in my view) has served mainly to delay for forty years the expected liturgical fruits. As a result, the traditional Latin Mass — the only Mass the Fathers knew or envisioned, and hence the one they thought to revitalize — has at the same time been frozen in its 1962 place instead of proceeding along the path of organic growth that the Council directed.

    – Those famous windows were opened not so the world could come into the Church, as has certainly happened to a fearsome excess, but so that the Church could go out into the world with a renewed confidence and dynamism and a new burst of evangelization. Instead, the process of aggressive evangelization that had continued pretty much apace for almost twenty centuries came largely to a halt in the years immediately following the Council.

    – Certainly for anyone who was there and had children, little need be added about the tragic and near total collapse in catechesis that occurred so quickly after the Council. But I wonder just what a child might need to learn now that was not contained in the Baltimore Catechism and its like before they were abandoned. In there anything in these fine old catechisms that the Council declared not suitable for continued catechesis? As for adults, I recall the instruction I received over a period of several months as a priest in the 1950′s. I’m confident that no current RCIA candidate (“No, not one!”) ever learns even a tiny fraction as much about the Church and the Faith. I have good reason to think that a fair number of priests in recent decades have learned a lot less during several years in the seminary.

    – You seem to question whether “what came before Vatican II was sufficient for communicating the faith”. In what way do you think it was insufficient for those first nineteen centuries of glorious Christian history and evangelization? In what way do you think it is being communicated better now, either to Catholics in the pews or to the outside world? Was Cardinal Ratzinger wrong in suggesting that the Council set forth no new dogmas of faith that might additionally need to be communicated?

    Similar questions could be asked regarding a half dozen other areas of Church life, but most of the answers likely would point in the same direction.

    I doubt that anywhere in the hundreds of my posts here and elsewhere can be found a suggestion or even a whiff of any “denial of Vatican II”. But what I do believe about the Council is suggested by the common rejoinder to critics of Christianity that “It’s never really been tried yet”. If Vatican II has thus far borne little tangible fruit in the Church and in lives of the faithful, it may well be because “Vatican II has not really been tried yet”, with its significant pastoral recommendations still awaiting effective implementation.

    But anyone, who argues instead that Vatican II has indeed been tried and that good fruits have already been borne, might remind us of exactly what they are. Thus reminded, any who have been feeling a bit discouraged might feel better about the whole thing.

  47. Somerset '76 says:

    I note with interest that Mr. Mershon is asking essentially the same questions I am, which I do appreciate. Regarding the lack of directly focused and authoritative answers to those questions, I see that he is onto this as well.

    Mr. Sudlow, directly responding to me, makes good points of his own, one that I cannot dismiss lightly or with an easy answer. I’m not sure I like the practical consequence of his approach, though: a situation in the Church where “everyone’s right about some things or others, but no one’s right about everything.” To me, that scenario presents its own challenge to the dogma of Indefectibility.

  48. Sean says:

    Dcn. Adam van der Meer: “What I am trying to do is understand how I, as a future priest, can help you, and folks like you”

    1. Read and obey the documents of Vatican 2 and documents since issued by the Holy See in good faith and in their entirety.

    2. Be a priest not an activist.

  49. Henry Edwards says:

    I recall the instruction I received over a period of several months as a priest in the 1950’s.

    Actually, I was a mere convert, so of course it was from a priest (indeed, a future bishop), not as a priest, that I received those instructions — which, even today, after almost a half-century of continued growth and study of the faith, I need only summon to memory to answer most questions that I hear.

  50. John says:

    ‘If the Church prior to Vatican II was so healthy and strong, why did it crash and burn so quickly?’ This is a good question. See a recent article in New Blackfriars, ‘What was wrong with Vatican II?’, for some discussion of the underlying preconciliar problems. My impression, from thinking about this problem, is this; the problem before the council was an essentially clerical one. Faith among the laity was pretty healthy and strong, hence the trends enumerated by Thomas Woods. Modernism never really died out among the clergy (see Philip Trower, ‘Turmoil & Truth’, on this question), only went underground, so there was an unbelieving movement among the clergy from the beginning of the 20th century. After the Second World War, there were two developments; a massive loss of faith among the clergy, and a massive loss of nerve among clerics who retained their faith. The latter category accepted Modernist premises, to the effect that the Church had to adapt to the modern world and that suppression of modernist clerics was cruel and unjust, as part of this loss of nerve; and condisidered the modernists their allies against the ‘conservative’ minority, who were seen as getting in the way of the necessary accommodation of the Church to the modern world. so within the clergy there was a terrible crisis prior to the Council; which in fact was addressed in encyclicals by Pius XII on liturgy, ecumenism and theology (‘Humani Generis’), which condemned precisely the ‘progressive’ views touted at Vatican II.
    You can see how this pre-conciliar weakness produced the conciliar and post-conciliar disaster. At Vatican II, the progressives and the heretics allied themselves, and seized political control of the Church. With the election of Paul VI, a progressive, this control was solidified. The progressive program was one of jettisoning the liturgy, rejecting traditional philosophy in favour of current European philosophical trends, and in practice getting rid by silence of any Catholic theological teaching thought to be not in conformity with the times. Suppression of Catholic (i.e. preconciliar) liturgy was an essential part of this program. ‘Conservatives’ (really full supporters of Catholic tradition) who objected to this program were intolerable, but heretics who went along with it were tolerable, or even allies. Conservatives were thus thoroughy purged from any position of influence in the clergy, religious orders, and Catholic educational establishments; this was done easily, except in the case of Abp. Lefebvre, because it was Vatican policy and was known to be such, and conservatives, together with ignorant people of good will, were obedient. Bishops and theologians who were heretics, and even ones who apostasied by denying the divinity of Christ (such as the Dutch bishops in their Catechism, and Karl Rahner) were subject at times to mild sanctions, chiefly to induce them to keep a bit of a Catholic facade up, but were basically tolerated. Of course in many cases the heretics got the upper hand over the progressives and enforced heresy, as in Holland (and in Australia for many years); the heretical element has a good deal of influence in the Roman Curia. Sexual degeneracy among the clergy played a supporting role here as well, but I think the loss of faith was a key element.
    One question that is hard to answer is; how far did this preconciliar weakness go? The success of the progressives and heretics resulted from their seizing control of the reins of power. These reins had been concentrated in Rome, in part because of the fight against modernism. So it was not necessary for the majority, or even a substantial minority, of the clergy to be heretical or progressive; it was only necessary for a small minority to seize control. Judging by events at the Council, the convinced heretics and progressives were a small minority, but so were the traditionalists; the majority were weak, ignorant and in the middle, and simply went along with what authority (Paul VI) wanted. The trouble with the Church now is that the purge of traditionalists was so thorough, and the hegemony of heretics over theological education so complete, that there is almost no-one in the hierarchy who accepts the reality of the situation; the few who approach doing so are repentant progressives, like the current Pontiff, who can’t really face up to their responsibility for the disaster the Church is in. That is why we can expect some good things from Benedict XVI, like a motu proprio, but not everything that he should be doing; we can’t expect a serious attempt to excommunicate heretical theologians, or to discipline bishops. That will have to wait for a pope who can accept the progressive responsibility for destruction of the church, and repudiate the progressive legacy.

  51. John says:

    By ‘destruction of the church’, I do not mean ‘total destruction of the church” , of course; I should have said ‘utter devastation of the Church’. I second, from personal experience, what was said above about no seminaries aside from traditionalist ones producing priests with a competent knowledge of the faith. I would be glad to be proved wrong. As for ‘dealing with the modern world’; the fundamental step in doing that must be accepting that the conciliar church (i.e. the Church arranged in the way envisaged by Vatican II and postconciliar changes) cannot be made to work. Efforts to make it work have totally failed; we have had 40 years of disaster as a result of them; so we have to radically change course.

  52. Jeff says:

    Okay, Henry Edwards, let me take a stab at what Vatican Two has given us.

    Before Vatican Two, Catholics had been coming to the conclusion that Christ’s power and sanctity were operative outside the structure of the Church. How to account for a C. S. Lewis for example? How to come to grips with the Christian fellowship experienced beyond the pale of the Catholic Church in the cataclysmic war with Nazism and the death struggle with Atheistic Communism?

    The kinks are still being worked out and corrections of course are needed for the Barque but all in all, the paradigm Vatican Two sets forth for understanding relations with fellow Christians and considering them as united with us in baptism in an important way was absolutely necessary…unavoidable in fact.

    Correctly understood, the episcopal structure of the Church as a parallel model to mere papal domination was also a necessary corrective. Many of the problems we have experienced since the counsel were because bishops were simply unused to acting like bishops. It’s taken decades and the process still goes on, but a healthy Church in which faithful bishops actually help govern and guide the Church with wisdom and sanctity is what we need, not just faceless bureaucrats. And I see more and more of them. Heck, even guys like Cormac-McCarthy are starting to show some mettle. I suspect we are facing a Storm the strength of which we do not expect and bishops like Olmsted and Bruskewitz and Carlson and many others are beginning to show us what a solid and holy hierarchy can be.

    If you consider the DOCTRINAL content of the Decree on the Sacred Liturgy rather than it’s many unfortunate and let us hope short term consequences, I think Vatican Two made a great contribution here too. It told us with the voice of the whole Church that liturgy was important. It told us that the movement which aimed at bringing people back into an experience of the Liturgy was necessary. The days of priests doing there business saying some prayers in a distant place while the faithful said their rosaries were gone forever. Pew missals might have shocked St. Francis de Sales, but they were a good thing.

    Even liturgical traditionalism–which is a reaction and a rediscovery–is a fruit of liturgical renewal. I rather think that many in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries would have agreed that all that was necessary was to give priests “their lines and their blocking” and not worry about content. It’s partly the incomprehension of what liturgy is that produced the shortcomings of the Pauline missal and certainly the multiple abuses of the years that followed. The maelstrom let loose by the early hamhanded attempts at liturgical renewal are signs of its necessity.

    We are in early days yet. I think it the end, Vatican Two will seem less earth-shattering than the modernists would like it to be, but far more influential than many traditionalists think. Why should renewal be a piece of cake? “BATTER my heart, three person’d God;for, you /
    As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
    That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
    Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.”

    And I think the Evil Days that will shortly be upon us will make all these quarrels seem relatively petty as we face God only knows what persecutions and siftings of Satan.

  53. CPKS says:

    While the Dutch Catechism certainly leaves a good deal to be desired, I have never before heard that it denies the divinity of Our Lord. John (the poster above, not the evangelist) makes a great many allegations: would he kindly substantiate this one?

  54. RBrown says:

    Jeff,

    Before Vatican Two, Catholics had been coming to the conclusion that Christ’s power and sanctity were operative outside the structure of the Church. How to account for a C. S. Lewis for example? How to come to grips with the Christian fellowship experienced beyond the pale of the Catholic Church in the cataclysmic war with Nazism and the death struggle with Atheistic Communism?

    It depends on what it meant by “the structure of the Church”. The change was a RETURN to a theological emphasis of the Church as Mystical Body (Whose Head is Christ the Priest) found in Scripture, St Augustine, and St Thomas–and away from the emphasis of the Church as Perfect Society Theology (cf. St Robert Bellarmine). This return formally began with a single act of the pope (cf. Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis) not with the Council. NB: The return posits the Eucharist and Priesthood in the center of the Church–the priest considered primarily as the one who enters the Sanctuary for the Sacrifice (cf. BXVI’s heraldry with the mitre rather than crown).

    I must admit, however, that I find the famous text from Lumen Gentium no. 8 less than satisfactory (licet extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniantur, quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria, ad unitatem catholicam impellunt).

    If you consider the DOCTRINAL content of the Decree on the Sacred Liturgy rather than it’s many unfortunate and let us hope short term consequences, I think Vatican Two made a great contribution here too. It told us with the voice of the whole Church that liturgy was important. It told us that the movement which aimed at bringing people back into an experience of the Liturgy was necessary. The days of priests doing there business saying some prayers in a distant place while the faithful said their rosaries were gone forever. Pew missals might have shocked St. Francis de Sales, but they were a good thing.

    Those things might be important, but that doesn’t make them doctrinal.

    There are problems (not doctrinal) in Sacraosanctum Concilium of which you (and, for that matter, John Donne) seem not to be aware.

  55. Jeff says:

    RBrown:

    I wasn’t trying to make an air-tight case that Vatican Two was completely majestic and unassailable. First, I don’t think it’s beyond criticism at all; second, it would take a book to do that or a whole debate, not a blog comment.

    I was just responding to the question, “What did Vatican Two give us?”

    As far as Mystici Corporis is concerned, of course that’s an important forerunner. But to have a movement endorsed and a call to have it deepened and extended by the august body of an Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church is something considerable, not “nothing.” And I do think that there is a theology of the liturgy that is implicit in the Constitution and in Pius’ Encyclical as well.

    I don’t know what to comment about the “problems” I’m not “aware” of; I’ve read innumerable pieces on SC and its problems and mostly I disagree, though sometimes I agree in part.

    The Donne quote was about renewal as a general matter, not just liturgical renewal. The standard take one hears is that chaos came after Vatican Two therefore renewal didn’t happen/isn’t happening and we would have been better off without it. I’m just pointing out that that needn’t be true, that’s all.

  56. Chironomo says:

    From the above post:

    “Whether or not the Church was in a “ghetto”, however one would define this term, prior to Vatican II, is not what is important. It is also not a matter of Faith and Morals for Catholics to believe this premise is true.”

    We might be wise to not apply the overly-americanized usage of the word “ghetto” here…. the word has a historical meaning closer to “enclave” or even “neighborhood”. Ghettos are areas, usually in larger cities, that are populated exclusively , or nearly so, by a single ethic or cultural group, such as the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw after WWI, and the “Polish Ghetto” in Chicago in the early 20th century, and the list goes on. The main purpose of the ghetto socially was to protect and continue a cultural tradition in a foreign environment. To say that the Catholic Church was “in a ghetto” does not imply that it was poor, or failing, but that it had become insultated from modernity and the growing popular culture as a way of defending its tradition. The Fathers of Vatican II, as well as Pope Benedict (then Fr. Ratzinger) felt strongly that the Church, if it were to continue its missionary outreach, needed to leave this “ghetto” and reach out into the modern world. In retrospect, it is clear that leaving the “ghetto” did cause a great deal of dmage to the tradition and culture of Catholicism. Pray that we will be able to correct this….