WSJ review of a book on Vatican II and rupture

I was alerted this morning, over breakfast with one of the most erudite priests of my acquaintance of a book review in the Wall Street Journal.

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.

What Happened at Vatican II
By John W. O’Malley
(Harvard/Belknap, 380 pages, $29.95)

 DECEMBER 25, 2008, 9:37 P.M. ET

Bookshelf
Chronicle of a Council
The debates, controversies and effects of one of the 20th century’s most significant religious events.

By EDWARD T. OAKES, S.J.

Contrary to popular wisdom, the highest authority of the Catholic Church is not the pope acting alone, reigning like some Jacobean absolute monarch. [hmmm] No, the Catholic buck stops when the pope teaches in communion with his fellow bishops. [I think the "buck stopping" and exercise of teaching authority are different concepts.]  True, the pope can act alone, and when he does his writ is universal and without appeal. Nonetheless, when he convokes a solemn assembly of bishops — technically called an ecumenical council ("ecumenical" meaning here world-wide, not local) — the church witnesses the highest instance of its teaching authority. As the church’s own "Code of Canon Law" of 1917 says: "An ecumenical council enjoys supreme power over the universal Church."
[Bookshelf]  [The 1983 is the Code now in force for the Latin Church.  I found this paragraph confusing. Lumen gentium is pretty clear about the Supreme Pontiff’s ability to teach entirely apart from a Council or the body of bishops in union with him. ]

The 21st of such councils, which met each fall from 1962 to 1965, is known as the Second Vatican Council — usually abbreviated as Vatican II. It was, most competent observers would agree, one of the most significant religious events of the 20th century. [Man bites dog!] But there agreement stops. Did Vatican II mean a rupture or a continuation with the church’s past?  [Sooo… Pope Benedict’s 2005 Christmas address to the Curia continues to shape the conversation!]

John O’Malley, a Jesuit professor at Georgetown University, [the author of the book in question] is a prominent exponent of the view that Vatican II represents discontinuity. (Another Jesuit, Cardinal Avery Dulles, who died on Dec. 12, 2008, led those scholars who insist on Vatican II’s continuity. [With all due respect to the late Cardinal, I think Joseph Ratzinger was the leader in this area.  But this is a Jesuit writing about a Jesuit commenting about a late Jesuit.]) At least superficially, Father O’Malley has a point: The Mass is now celebrated in the language of the people instead of in Latin;[That is just a fact… it is not the Church’s law.  The same Vatican II we are talking about here required that Latin be maintained.  It was definitely an application of a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture which removed Latin from our worship, to the great detrimment of the whole Church.] liturgical translations avoid Renaissance cadences in favor of staccato syntax; [They do.  They also favor incredibly banal language nearly bereft of theological or linguistic fidelity to the Latin originals.  The new translation will be better.] thundering condemnations of the modern world (and of Protestants) have been replaced with openness and dialogue — and vocations to the priesthood and convent life have plummeted[A tree is known from its fruits.]

Of course, no major event in history can escape the law of unintended consequences; and Vatican II is no exception. The assembled bishops hardly intended to empty rectories and convents, but that is what happened. Which forces the question: How much of this disruption was predictable and how much was due to the unexpected winds of history, such as the student rebellions of 1968 and the rise of the so-called counterculture? And if predictable, should Vatican II, at least to some extent, be faulted — for the sin of imprudence if not of untruth?  [How much was… planned … ?]

Not according to Father O’Malley, who sees Vatican II as an unalloyed good, precisely because it marked a break with the past. [This fellow is in the same theological morass as was (Jesuit) Karl Rahner and especially Hans Kung, who still thinks that the break of continuity didn’t go nearly deep enough.]  As he puts it in "What Happened at Vatican II": "At stake were almost two different visions of Catholicism: from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to serving, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from fault-finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principled, from behavior modification to inner appropriation."  [blech]

This passage nicely exemplifies the standard ploy of Whig and liberal historiography: Take the high road of monopolizing all the virtue and consign "conservatives" to a hidebound redoubt of obscurantism. [Good observation.] How much such rhetorical sleight of hand can itself be regarded as an example of dialogue over monologue might be questioned. But it has to be said in Father O’Malley’s favor that his liberal advocacy never impairs his acutely observed history of the Council, now the go-to work on "what happened at Vatican II." He is particularly illuminating when he gives the background and context to the debates (often very heated) that gave birth to its decrees. The narrative might be Whig, but the history is fair – and rivetingly told.

Ironically, Father O’Malley’s dedication to his craft often undercuts his discontinuity thesis. He openly admits that, without the advances made in church teaching during Pius XII‘s pontificate (1939-58), Vatican II would have been inconceivable. Not only did Pius call on Catholic biblical scholars in 1943 to study the Bible as a set of variable documents conditioned by their respective cultural settings (thereby undercutting a budding Catholic quasi-fundamentalism), he also urged Catholics to promote democracy. In an important radio address on Christmas Eve 1944, he almost sounded like Woodrow Wilson: "Taught by bitter experience, people today more and more oppose monopolies of power that are dictatorial, accountable to no one, and impossible to reject. They want a system of government more compatible with the dignity and liberty due to citizens." In that same address the pope even said that "the future belongs to democracy." Pope John XXIII (who convoked the Second Vatican Council in 1959) could not have said it better.

Nor was Vatican II, as Father O’Malley admits, quite as noncondemnatory as it is often taken to be, for it roundly denounced both abortion and the wholesale destruction of cities in war. Even on birth control it did no more than repeat past teaching. The author also concedes that the assembled bishops were not just divided along conservative/progressive lines but that deep divisions ran through both camps. For example, Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York (Eleanor Roosevelt’s bête noire) strongly defended the Decree on Religious Liberty against the worries of many bishops from Spain and Italy that such a concession represented the heresy of "Americanism."

In other words, in "What Happened at Vatican II," the historian is at war with the editorialist. Fortunately, the historian wins almost every time.

Father Oakes teaches theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., the seminary for the archdiocese of Chicago.

I won’t be rushing on the strength of this review to get the book, but I will look at it if it comes my way and I don’t have to buy it.

I think we have had enough of the "discontinuity" camp.

We need far better history of the Council than hitherto has been published.  Some scholars are beginning to move in this direction, opposite the Alberigo camp, the School of Bologna, etc.  I have in mind, for example, Archbp. Marchetto’s work in Italian.

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82 Responses to WSJ review of a book on Vatican II and rupture

  1. Lcb says:

    I’m shocked, shocked I say, that such a book would emerge from mundelein.

  2. Andreas says:

    Contrary to popular wisdom, the highest authority of the Catholic Church is not the pope acting alone, reigning like some Jacobean absolute monarch. [hmmm]

    The writer is dead wrong! He is providing a citation of Can 228 §1. (Concilium Oecumenicum suprema pollet in universam Ecclesiam potestate.) But he should have at least added §2. (A sententia Romani Pontificis non datur ad Concilium Oecumenicum appellatio.) Moreover one should read from the beginning starting with Can 222 §1. Dari nequit Oecumenicum Concilium quod a Romano Pontifice non fuerit convocatum.
    §2. Eiusdem Romani Pontificis est Oecumenico Concilio per se vel per alios praeesse, res in eo tractandas ordinemque servandum constituere ac designare, Concilium ipsum transferre, suspendere, dissolvere, eiusque decreta confirmare.

    Et cetera. If the author is smart enough to invoke the old code, he should be smart enough to present it in a comprehensive, non misleading manner. The Pope can, as stated in Par. 2 of Can. 222 above, suspend, dissolve, or not confirm the teaching of an ecumenical council.

  3. fatherrob says:

    Lcb:

    The book didn’t come from Mundelein.

    The reviewer, Fr. Oakes (who, btw, is a fine and orthodox priest) , is on the faculty at Mundelein.

    Fr. O’ Malley, the author of the book (as the review itself spells out) is at Georgetown University.

    Fr. Rob Johansen

  4. Andy says:

    “Did Vatican II mean a rupture or a continuation with the church’s past?”

    The question is not whether or not Vatican II means a rupture or a continuation with the Church’s past. It is still too early to answer that question.

    The question now is: “What will happen next?”

    Of course, Vatican II was such a colossal event, that all the rest seems insignificant.

    We need another colossal event. Maybe the Papacy of Benedict XVI?

    As history further unfolds, we will see that it is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.

    And ultimately, we will reach the point at which the traditional becomes modern again.

  5. Geo F. says:

    Fr. Karl Rahner’s works are good for one thing only: kindling for the wood stove. I wouldn’t even re-cycle Karl Rahner’s works for fear of poisoning someone elses mind.

  6. On the emptying of convents & rectories:

    The Church makes a mistake anytime it seeks to be “relevant” to modern culture. In doing so, it takes that culture as its measure and subordinates itself to that culture, making itself as ephemeral as the culture and its trends.

    We ought instead to remember St. Vincent of Lerins’ Canon of Catholicity (Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus), and remember that as Christ’s body on earth we stand above individual cultures (tied as they are to particular times and places). It is against God’s truth that a culture must be measured, and it is accordance with God’s truth that the Church should shape her practices.

    It is no surprise at all that when (in abuse of “the spirit of Vatican II”) the Western Church sought to be “more relevant” it became irrelevant at worst, or just another social agency at best. Where is the Splendor of Truth? the Power and the Glory of something radically Other from society at large? What is there in a Church that has molded itself to society at large that will call people out of that society? Why would anyone surrender their life and enter an order or the Priesthood if the Church is just another social agency, another piece of the machinery of the age?

    John Paul II (qui Sanctus et Doctor vero videtur) pointed out the move of the Spirit in his _Crossing the Threshold of Hope_. The Western, industrialized countries are no longer the great senders of missionaries. Rather, we are now the mission field. My parish priest is from Poland and speaks English as a second language. At the Reconciliation Service I attended during advent, fully half of the priests were from Africa (and all named Bernard). We pray for vocations to ordained and religious lives every Mass, but there is no compelling reason for our young to sign up. And so the youth of countries where the Church still behaves like the Church come to us.

    May we repent of embracing our culture, become truly Catholic once more, and learn to shine as lights in the darkness, drawing men to our Redeemer.

    Pax et bonum hoc die Sancti Stephani,
    Izzy

  7. The great lesson of history is that Councils never have any widespread positive effect for a generation or two after they close – and sometimes the aftermath is horrific (see Nicaea and the briefly Arian empire, for example). Norman Tanner, SJ, is especially good on this in his The Councils of the Church: a short history.

    One of the most instructive lessons, especially for persons of the trad mentality, is to study the slow and remarkably uneven application of Trent. France the Eldest Daughter of the Church? Yes, in much the same way that Goneril was Lear’s eldest.

  8. Kerry says:

    Father Z, I am late to all the discussions about Vatican II, how the Church altered, the disappearance of Latin etc. (Some biography: We, my wife and I began church hunting after the death of JP II and the horror in Florida of Terri Schiavo. We were not raised Catholic and, because of prior marriages, are not yet Catholic. However, we are convinced it is the True Church. We’ve missed about one Sunday in three years, have faithfully said the Rosary without missing a day these past three months. Enough about me.) I deeply long for a return to sanctity, tradition, decor, better music, (I expect to find ‘Tea for Two’ and ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ in the next edition of Gather) What is your take on Vatican II? What did they get right? Wrong? What do you think of the SSPX ? I know this is asking for a lot, perhaps there are other sources, website, books you could recommend. Thank you. (private emails would be OK. We attend Maternity of Mary in St. Paul)

  9. little gal says:

    Fr. Johansen:

    Thanks for ‘beating me to the punch’ in correcting the error that Fr. Oakes, not Fr. O’Malley, teaches at Mundelein. I have had the ‘privilege’ of attending Mass with Fr. Oakes as celebrant. The homily he gave on First Corinthians was and still is probably the finest teaching that I have ever received from a priest. I heard he was diagnosed with cancer a while back, I hope he is on the road to recovery. He is a gift to the Church.

  10. Ed says:

    Andy,

    It is the nature of “the modern” to outstrip itself tomorrow, otherwise it couldn’t stay modern. That’s ongoing, every minute; the new becomes old hat, and modernity must supercede itself. The term, which seems to invoke that process, is chimerical, but compelling.

    It recalls the Vatican II many of us were “told” about back then, and the sweeping changes that erupted seemingly overnight. Reading some of the council’s documents decades later, I’m in awe of how these documents were used as warrant for what went down. Seems no real basis for most of what I saw happening.

    And so we do have that colossal event already, in the Papacy of Benedict XVI, who is putting the lie, in modernity’s own language, to the glamour of the modern, while apparently holding to what Vatican II really intended.

    Like a return to the days of the Fathers, (who I’m just learning about via Pope Benedict’s “a lot”). Things going awry, people looking to the Church for direction and upholding, Arianism in the majority and held as doctrine by many bishops…

    Let’s hope and pray that the Real, which we may note as the traditional, never becomes “modern again,” because it will then be superceded eventually, by some other “modern again.”

    Thank you, Father Z and everyone, for holding the line.

  11. Doug says:

    Izzy —

    I couldn’t agree more. I think Chesterton said it best: “Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.”

    Kerry —

    I’m in a similar situation myself. New to the Church and horrified/mystified by rampant rejection of its own rich tradition.

  12. PNP, OP says:

    Andy,

    You are correct when you write that the question is not whether or not VCII represents rupture or continuity. The Fathers of the Council settled that question in almost every document of the council when they explicitly tie the teachings of the council to the two previous councils and by implication to all of the other councils.

    You are incorrect when you write that it is too early to answer the question about rupture or continuation. In fact, it is entirely too late to be asking the question at all. The Holy Spirit does not teach the Church one truth to one generation and another truth to some future generation.

    That we clarify our always limited understanding of revelation from generation to generation is not an indication that revelation itself changes over time. My bet is that the “Rupture Crowd” would quite suddenly become the “Continuity Crowd” if the next council leans a little too far to the right for their liking. Historically, revolutionaries almost always become the conservative defenders of a tradition they themselves created, even when that tradition is truly nothing more than wishes and fairy dust.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  13. Thomas says:

    Fr. Z,

    If you’re interested, Fr. Neuhaus wrote a long review of both this book and “Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition” for the October 2008 edition of First Things.

  14. Father Powell: Well stated.

  15. LCB says:

    Please allow me to retract my previous comment, and issue a new one.

    I’m shocked, shocked I say, that such a book would emerge from Georgetown.

    Though I’m not the biggest fan of Mundelein, I did not mean to compare it to Georgetown in any way!

  16. Too bad, that we have to be continually bombarded by the heterodox camp who is so out of touch with reality altogether. Have not the years and work of the servnat of God, Pope John Paul II, of Happy Memory, menat nothing to this jesuitical person, opps, sorry. (The years in Rome where so many walls accuse “Gesuiti malvaggi” and the likes, have rubbed off on me)! If that were not enough have not the years of the presently gloriously reigning Pontiff (no, not a Jacobean monarch, but the Vicar of Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on earth) not taught him anything? One thing liberals are: on the one hand, the most intolerant people of all, as my friend Bishop Rene H. Gracida used to tell me; and, out of touch. By negating tat which is they can continue to wear their rose-colored glasses and maintain that all is well with their version of the Kingdom (or is that republic) of God on earth. They have to repeat all this mainly to themselves because they know their time is up. The Benedictine Reform, just at its beginnings, but like a giant snowball unable to be stopped has made sure of that. Deo gratias pro Summo Pontifice Benedicto XVI !

    Opto Tibi etiam omnibus lectoribus tuis festas Natalitias amoris, pacis necnon et laetitiae plenas !

  17. Why read history from someone with a rupture agenda? Focus on living the true Vatican II and move forward.

  18. RBrown says:

    The great lesson of history is that Councils never have any widespread positive effect for a generation or two after they close – and sometimes the aftermath is horrific (see Nicaea and the briefly Arian empire, for example). Norman Tanner, SJ, is especially good on this in his The Councils of the Church: a short history.

    I’ve never bought into the Aftermath-Is-Horrific line about Councils. The aftermath of Nicea was horrific, but so was the prelude. Arianism was the problem–before and after the Council.

    One of the most instructive lessons, especially for persons of the trad mentality, is to study the slow and remarkably uneven application of Trent. France the Eldest Daughter of the Church? Yes, in much the same way that Goneril was Lear’s eldest.
    Comment by Michael Tinkler

    Although there are some good things to be found in the texts of Vat II, many of the present problems are traceable to problems with texts that are, at best, ambiguous. Combine that with the liberals grabbing control of the implementation commissions, and the contemporary mess is understandable.

  19. Emilio III says:

    The review by Fr Neuhaus mentioned by Thomas is available online:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6327

    It has an interesting conclusion:

    There is indeed irony, but it is not the irony that O’Malley
    proposes. What Happened at Vatican II is a 372-page brief for the party of novelty and discontinuity. Its author comes very close to saying explicitly what is frequently implied: that the innovationists practiced subterfuge, and they got away with it. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and his Society of St. Pius X are right: The council was a radical break from tradition and proposed what is, in effect, a different Catholicism. The irony is in the agreement between Lefebvre and the liberal party of discontinuity. O’Malley and those of like mind might be described as the Lefebvrists of the left.

    It is almost half a century after the council. The pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, along with the scholarly arguments represented by books such as Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition, make it evident that the hermeneutics of continuity is prevailing, if it has not already definitively prevailed. Fr. O’Malley may suspect that is the case. His book has about it the feel of a last-ditch effort to defend the story line of the post-Vatican II Church vs. the pre-Vatican II Church that was popularized by Xavier Rynne all these many years ago. The final irony is that if, in the twenty-fifth century, the Second Vatican Council is remembered as a reform council that failed, it will be the result of the combined, if unintended, efforts of the likes of Marcel Lefebvre and John O’Malley in advancing the argument that the council was a radical break from the tradition that is Catholicism. I do not expect they will succeed.

  20. joe says:

    Fr. Neuhaus’ review (along with the Levering & Lamb book) of Fr. O’Malley’s book is up at the New York Sun website:

    http://www.nysun.com/arts/the-living-church-revisiting-vatican-ii/83726/

    As re. Fr. Oakes — also a frequent contributor to Fr. Neuhaus’ First Things magazine — he is precisely the sort of Jesuit of we could use in hyperabundance. (I believe it was Fr. Neuhaus, not Fr. Oakes who was diagnosed with cancer…please someone correct me.)

    AMDG,

    -J.

  21. little gal says:

    Joe:

    “not Fr. Oakes who was diagnosed with cancer…please someone correct.”

    I am local and heard this directly from a source that would know. I believe both men are suffering from the same type of cancer.

  22. John Polhamus says:

    Going My Way? I think not. I believe Fr. O’Malley’s theory of discontinuity is absolutely spot on. Whether that was the intention is still open to debate, but discontinuity was the result. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t be arguing about it. The item of interest is that Fr. O’Malley while owning the point, finds it a GOOD thing, rather than a bad one, and SAYS SO PUBLICLY. As if we didn’t already know that his order by and very largely holds that position. Fine, hold it right into the grave, for yourself and your order. Long live Benedict XVI and the Mermeneutic of Continuity.

  23. Brian Mershon says:

    Ah Fr. Neuhaus with his always read “Lefebvrists of the left” silliness.

    Fr. Neuhaus. Truth is not RIGHT nor LEFT. That is a logical fallacy called “the false idea of a middle way between two extremes.”

    I’m not looking for books on the history of the Council that “show continuity.” I’ looking for books that tell the truth about everything that happened. Historical books are not bound to a certain “hermeneutic,” or that would be bias.

    History should try to capture the truth of what happened at the Council and thereafter. Atila Sinke Guimares has done a phenomenal job of that with the volumes he has undertaken and his footnoting and capturing what the “leading lights” of the Council said and did during and after the Council provides ample evidence for all who are not seeking a predetermined explanation.

  24. Brian Mershon says:

    Until someone goes through the authority of the documents of Vatican II and analyzes their texts with the pre-Vatican II texts on the same subject, we will continue to have this debate.

    Hopefully, the SSPX will begin to get the ball rolling in this regard.

    If Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors was wrong, then certainly that means the documents of Vatican II, so conditioned to the times and ways of the 1960s, could also be wrong, heh?

    We are NOT so much more enlightened now than our predecessors. Really, we are not.

  25. I’m not looking for books on the history of the Council that “show continuity.” I’ looking for books that tell the truth about everything that happened. Historical books are not bound to a certain “hermeneutic,” or that would be bias.

    “Biases,” i.e., the point of view of the historian, are a standard feature of history. There’s nothing per se wrong with that so long as the narrative doesn’t warp the facts.

  26. Jeannie says:

    \”from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to serving, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from fault-finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principled, from behavior modification to inner appropriation.\”

    Integration is the missing link. You don\’t replace the ten commandments with the golden rule; rather, observing the ten commandments is a component of living out the golden rule. Yes, the mass is a joyous invitation to closer union with God, but if you don\’t feel like going, you still have a Sunday obligation. Thus mass attendance is both an invitation and a command. Sure, \”from hostility to friendship\” and \”from fault-finding to appreciation\” are over the top, but taking the substantive elements of these false dichotomies one by one, we see the contribution of Vatican II to a more mature appreciation of our faith.

    \”from commands to invitations,\” the essence of the Church\’s commands is invitation to closer union with God,
    \”from laws to ideals,\” our laws codify our ideals,
    \”from definitions to mystery,\” memorized definitions ground our understanding of the mystery of our faith,
    \”from coercion to conscience,\” a well formed conscience allows us to embrace and internalize moral teachings,
    \”from monologue to dialogue\”, the monologue of the priest becomes a chorus of silent prayer when we are united in our worship,
    \”from ruling to serving\” the rule of the Church serves the people of God by protecting and passing on the Truth.

    If we replace commands with invitations, they become suggestions.
    If we replace laws with ideals they become corrupted.
    If we replace definitions with mystery we lose our bearings.
    If we replace coercion with conscience, we lose the opportunity to form our consciences.
    If we replace monologue with dialogue, the result is cacophony.
    If we replace ruling with serving, the Church relinquishes the Truth in the service of service.

    The only way Vatican II makes sense is in continuity with the history and tradition of the Church.

  27. Joseph says:

    We need far better history of the Council than hitherto has been published.

    Fr. Z, have you read Iota Unum? If so, is it worth reading?

  28. I read the book by O’Malley.He beleves the Council was necessary to get the church beyond the 19th century which it was still mired in in the 20th (according to the book).The author tries to be fair but his prejudices show.There are interesting parts eg.the declaration on the Jews was watered down because Maximos Saigh threatend to leave the council if they passed the draft which totally exonerated the Jews from the death of Christ.The Council teaches us a fwe things because of which their will never be a Vatican 3 .1) it is too expensive 2)it is impossible to expect 3000 bishops to keep their mouths shut and respect secrecy 3)the bishops who speak (as senators on C-span )for the home crowd through the media 4)the bishops speak to impress the non-catholic auditors.The book details the efforts by the Pope to put the horse back in the barn.Pope Paul when Cardinal Montini initially was opposed to a callong of a Council because he felt the church was in good shape and her internal enemies were contained.Call a council and you unleah them which proved to be true.When the curia sent the pope new regulations on indulgences ,Paul VI made the mistake of sending them to the coulcil.The reaction to the doucument was nasty.Bishops denounced the practice of indulgences (remember their audience included Protestant observors)and unged the practice be discontinued.Paul withdrew the document and issued it after the council.Reading the book I can understant why the person who convoked the council and expecetd it to over in three months.Bl.John XXIII,said on his deathbed,”Stop the Council!”

  29. Rev. Dr. Mike says:

    Thank you; Jeannie, well stated logic and shows how as mere human beings need Divine help. (and Mercy)
    I wonder about lots of things and ideas, even more now that I am over 60; years ago I sure knew as fact the answers. Now I have more questions (wondering) than I do the answers.

  30. Gravitas says:

    Read The Rhine Flows into the Tiber.

    Written by the priest who, at the time, ran the press office of the Vatican.

    Very. Scary. Stuff.

  31. Larry says:

    Just a brief on the first few words. While Fr. Oakes enjoys a certain reputation here he has become a “spin doctor”. LG makes the point that is the Bishops teaching in union with their head the Roman Pontiff. The Roman Pontiff can in fact teach on his own authority whether the bishops agree or not. It may seem a small difference but it is in fact monumental. Granted a Council teaching from the bishops with the Roman Pontiff is the highest form of authority in the Church. LG actually greatly limits the authority of the bishops and that was providential given the teachings of some of our bishops since the Council. I” read the rest of the article but I suspect that it is all simply the survivors trying to out shine those who have gone before them.

  32. Larry says:

    Fr. Oakes has saved us a lot of frustration in pointing to the in accurate presentation in this book. My earlier concerns are some what lessened. But I stand by the notion of the teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops.

  33. BCatholic says:

    I only have one more chapter in in the Lamb/Levering book and I would definitely recommend it.

  34. John says:

    Father Z, [or any one who knows this author well], is the Alberigo school on the right track? I read his book that came out about 1-2 years ago and found it to be very much on target.

  35. Brian says:

    Jeannie

    You wrote:

    “taking the substantive elements of these false dichotomies one by one, we see the contribution of Vatican II to a more mature appreciation of our faith.”

    “from commands to invitations,” the essence of the Church’s commands is invitation to closer union with God,
    “from laws to ideals,” our laws codify our ideals,
    “from definitions to mystery,” memorized definitions ground our understanding of the mystery of our faith,
    “from coercion to conscience,” a well formed conscience allows us to embrace and internalize moral teachings,
    “from monologue to dialogue”, the monologue of the priest becomes a chorus of silent prayer when we are united in our worship,
    “from ruling to serving” the rule of the Church serves the people of God by protecting and passing on the Truth

    In so doing, you seem to have fallen into Father O’Malley’s false premise that prior to being enlightened from an immature to a mature appreciation of our faith by Vatican II, the Church was all about commands, laws, definitions, coercion, monologue, and ruling.

    That premise, of course, is preposterous.

  36. joe says:

    Little Gal,

    Thanks, I stand corrected. Both will be in my prayers; especially Fr. Oakes, as his kind is rather a minority in the Jesuit ranks at the moment.

    AMDG,

    -J.

  37. The other David says:

    “No, the Catholic buck stops when the pope teaches in communion with his fellow bishops.” (From the article)

    Sounds rather like “Conciliarism” and seems to try to imply that the Pope only has authority when the bishops agree with him.

    This book is not on my “to read” list

  38. Jeannie says:

    Brian,

    I agree that the author’s characterization of “before” and “after” Vatican II are off, but even in his negative representation of the pre-Vatican II Church, the value of the Church’s authoritative role shines through. Theology develops over time. Our understanding “matures”. I didn’t mean to imply that any particular generation is “immature”, only that we have a greater opportunity than previous generations (and consequently a lesser opportunity than future generations) to understand our faith.

    To use a specific example, the theology of marriage is only beginning to be explored. For two millenia procreation was the only recognized purpose of marriage. The theology of the body is entirely post Vatican II thought. If you dump the “old” as you embrace the “new”, you lose the foundation on which the “new” is built, and it crumbles. With respect to marriage, we can’t look to the Church’s inclusion of the unitive purpose of marriage to the exclusion of the procreative. The prohibition on birth control remains in place, but we have a better opportunity to understand all the reasons that being open to life is a glorious invitation to live fully the vocation to marriage. It would be equally foolish to embrace the procreative purpose of marriage and deny the unitive purpose. We must always integrate advances in our understanding with that which we already know.

    I think the error of “the spirit of Vatican II” is in looking to replace that which came before. The actual documents of Vatican II do not call for rupture. Ultimately, once the “spirit of Vatican II” dies off, I think the actual Vatican II will prove to have been good for the life of the Church. Of course, I could be completely wrong.

    Pax et bonum.

  39. Malta says:

    you guys have your hearts in the right place, but how can you take seriosly a Council that adulates Buddhism?

  40. Athelstane says:

    Hello Fr. Z,

    We need far better history of the Council than hitherto has been published. Some scholars are beginning to move in this direction, opposite the Alberigo camp, the School of Bologna, etc. I have in mind, for example, Archbp. Marchetto’s work in Italian.

    I’m glad you mentioned Archbishop Marchetto’s book – for which I still eagerly await a translation in English, and have ever since I read Sandro Magister’s article detailing Cardinal Ruini’s praise for it in la Chiesa a few years back: http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/34283?eng=y. Fortunately, it appears that a translation has been done now, and the University of Scranton Press is planning to publish it sometime in 2009.

    Yet even with Marchetto book and the Lamb/Levering compilation (and many other earlier works, too many of which were more polemical than scholarly), it’s clear that we still await a a history truly comparable with the Alberigo set: Something unsparing, and hopefully removed far enough in time to take a truly critical and exhaustive look at the council (and its aftermath) and let the chips fall where they may.

    I recall some brief exchanges I had with Fr. Komonchak at CUA, who noted curious instances where Pope Benedict had gone out of his way to refrain from criticizing the Bologna school in the first years of his pontificate: speaking of a “hermeneutic of continuity” but not of “discontinuity” in his Dec. 22, 2005 address to the curia, or the donation of some his personal papers to Alberigo’s institute. It may be that the pope sees wisdom in not upsetting any more apple carts, at least not explicitly and publicly, at this juncture. In any case, the hard work in examining the council awaits the scholars.

    As for the papacy, a long term verdict may not be felt until a pope of stature who comes of age in years after the Council (and thus not vested in it personally) comes along, preferably with the benefit of scholarly treatments of which we speak of here in hope. Which is not a criticism of the Holy Father, but only an observation on the nature and advantages of detachment for critical assessment.

    Fr. O’Malley has a long review of Marchetto’s book in the March 2006 issue of Theological Studies, by the way (available publicly here: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb6404/is_/ai_n29250313).

  41. Jordanes says:

    Malta said: you guys have your hearts in the right place, but how can you take seriosly a Council that adulates Buddhism?

    How can we take seriously your assertion? There has
    never been an oecumenical council that “adulates” Buddhism, not even the 21st.

    Brian Mershon said: Fr. Neuhaus. Truth is not RIGHT nor LEFT. That is a logical fallacy called “the false idea of a middle way between two extremes.”

    Inasmuch as Father Neuhaus has made that same point several times in First Things, I would think it safe to say that he already knows that truth is not right nor left. Nor does he commit that fallacy in his review. Perhaps you should reread it?

    I’m not looking for books on the history of the Council that “show continuity.” I’ looking for books that tell the truth about everything that happened.

    And what if showing the continuity of Vatican II with the preceding councils is telling the truth about everything that happened?

    Historical books are not bound to a certain “hermeneutic,” or that would be bias.

    They are bound to the hermeneutic of truth and accuracy. To the extent that historical books are not biased in favor of truth and\ accuracy, they are that much less valuable.

  42. James says:

    Joseph,

    ‘Iota Unam’ is an extremely detailed, well-written historical book. If you really want to “know what happened” at Vatican II it is a good book to read, most definitely. But for some it might be too much, that is, perhaps a bit depressing.

  43. Jayna says:

    I’m not looking for books on the history of the Council that “show continuity.” I’ looking for books that tell the truth about everything that happened. Historical books are not bound to a certain “hermeneutic,” or that would be bias.

    There’s nothing wrong with bias in the writing of history, within reason of course. If we as historians only wrote the facts, we may as well just publish the documents and not say a word (though that even presupposes a certain bias). The point of history is to interpret, and the “truth” that you want to read about is going to be different for each historian as interpretation is an extremely subjective act even when it must be primarily based on documented fact. Even if the sources are the same, the way in which the historian contextualizes those sources in his work may be different, so the “truth” can and often will be altered. It doesn’t mean their work is compromised in any way, provided they can back up their thesis, it is simply the nature of the discipline. That being said, relativism to the nth degree is not the desired approach either, but it is important not to have your hands tied behind your back when trying to reconstruct an historical event.

  44. Marcin Kukuczka says:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
    I have recently met lots of people with whom I discussed the pros and cons concerning Vatican II.

    In my opinion, we should never concentrate on those aspects as the sole aim in itself. What is significanr in all that matter is: VATICAN COUNCIL WAS NECESSARY to make our religion ongoing, everyday, simple, applied to various individuals, groups since CHRIST OUR LORD WAS BORN, DIED AND ROSE FROM THE DEAD FOR ALL OF US. HE WALKS ALONG WITH HUMANITY THROUGHOUT HISTORY IN THE MARVELOUS MYSTERY OF LOVE (as Pope Benedict XVI said in Easter 2007). Therefore, we cannot put religion to some tradition (though beautiful of course but usually insufficient). It is life.

    Obviously there are problems arising but they are always possible to overcome as long as we walk in communion with Christ ever anewing us

    God bless all people of good will!

  45. Michael UK says:

    In reading Iota Unum, which should be on the reading list for all seminarians and clergy, why meets paragraphs which hit you between the yes as to the difference pre and post VatII. Such affecting the underlying basis of Catholic belief. It has been written on a non-polemic basis. The current issue of Apropos also makes interesting reading [as allways]as to the de facto differentiation in Mother Church pre and post Vat II.

  46. Oakes article is good and might be read in conjunction with Steinfels very different (discontinuity is right) take in the NY Times book review section.

    Together (and after actually reading the book), both are right to some extent. O’Malley plainly admits that there is virtually no nothing in the documents to support the discontinuity thesis, but he also, correctly, I think, points out that the style and tone of the documents seems in complete discontinuity with earlier ways ecclesiatical language and attitudes.

    Sadly, most people get their views of the Church from the secular media, and the media is always focused on style rather than substance. Thus the popular perception that the council was a complete break with the past. And those who lived through the period (I did), know that the experience of the council and its aftermath in the parishes was discontinuity. Sadly the continuity exists mostly on a theoretical level while discontinuity is experiential. Thus orthodoxy looks like an unhappy political faction to the press and many in-the-pews Catholics.

    In all seriousness, both sides have facts no their sides. Recovery from this sad result will probably take centuries.

  47. kat says:

    Marcin, you say that, “VATICAN COUNCIL WAS NECESSARY to make our religion ongoing, everyday, simple, applied to various individuals, groups…”

    Why is it that so many holy Saints emerged from the pre-Vatican II Church, even though, according to you they were not making our religion ongoing, everyday, and simple, but we have had so few in the past 40 years? Why are vocations to the priesthood and religious life so low? Why are so few well versed in their knowledge of the Faith? Why are so few called to daily prayer, penance, sacrifice?

    By their fruits…

  48. Brian says:

    Jeannie,

    Once again, you have fallen into the false premise of Fr. O’Malley regarding our mature, enlightened, modern insights over the pre-Vatican II Church.

    You write, “to use a specific example, the theology of marriage is only beginning to be explored. For two millenia procreation was the only recognized purpose of marriage . . . It would be . . . foolish to embrace the procreative purpose of marriage and deny the unitive purpose. We must always integrate advances in our understanding with that which we already know..”

    On what basis do you make that claim? Have you so fallen for the myth of post-Vatican II maturation that you do not even explore the rich treasures of age-old Catholic teaching?

    To cite but one example (edited for the sake of brevity), in 1566, the Catechism of the Council of Trent taught:

    “We have now to explain why man and woman should be joined in marriage.

    “First of all, nature itself by an instinct implanted in both sexes impels them to such companionship, and this is further encouraged by the hope of mutual assistance in bearing more easily the discomforts of life and the infirmities of old age.

    “A second reason for marriage is the desire of family, not so much, however, with a view to leave after us heirs to inherit our property and fortune, as to bring up children in the true faith and in the service of God . . .

    “A third reason has been added, as a consequence of the fall of our first parents. On account of the loss of original innocence the passions began to rise in rebellion against right reason; and man, conscious of his own frailty and unwilling to fight the battles of the flesh, is supplied by marriage with an antidote by which to avoid sins of lust . . .

    Certainly, here the Catechism has refuted your false contention that “for two millenia procreation was the only recognized purpose of marriage.” But let’s look further. Did pre-Vatican II teaching “deny the unitive purpose” of marriage? The Catechism of the Council of Trent continues:

    “It will now be necessary to explain that Matrimony is far superior in its sacramental aspect and aims at an incomparably higher end. For as marriage, as a natural union, was instituted from the beginning to propagate the human race; so was the sacramental dignity subsequently conferred upon it in order that a people might be begotten and brought up for the service and worship of the true God and of Christ our Saviour. Thus when Christ our Lord wished to give a sign of the intimate union that exists between Him and His Church and of His immense love for us, He chose especially the sacred union of man and wife. That this sign was a most appropriate one will readily appear from the fact that of all human relations there is none that binds so closely as the marriage-tie, and from the fact that husband and wife are bound to one another by the bonds of the greatest affection and love. Hence it is that Holy Writ so frequently represents to us the divine union of Christ and the Church under the figure of marriage.”

    Jeannie, I am sorry to tell you that 1) your lack of awareness of of pre-Vatican II teaching on marriage and 2) your false characterization of that teaching and 3) your resultant blind faith that a profound maturation of theological thought occurred in the early 1960s, all appear to be a warning signs, if not symptoms, that you may be stricken with a mild form of the disease of the “spirit of Vatican II.”

    In addtion, given the unprecedented number of annulments in our generation, the notion that “our understanding” of marriage has “matured,” is, at least, debatable. The Catholic divorce rate approaches that of the general public. The vast majority of Catholics seeking annulments, are granted annulments. Either the Catholic annulment process is violating the sanctity of marriage by rubber-stamping divorce, or Catholics are so degenerate, ill-formed, and deluded about marriage that they are unable to enter into a valid marriage contract. Either way, with regard to the sanctity of marriage, the post-Vatican II Catholic Church shows little indication of maturation.

  49. Brian: In addtion, given the unprecedented number of annulments in our generation, the notion that “our understanding” of marriage has “matured,” is, at least, debatable.

    Wow, what an understatement!

    Ok, now that we’ve disposed of the theology of the body and its “matured understanding of marriage”, perhaps anyone can cite for our similar attention some other area of post-Vatican II maturation in the Church.

    For starters, perhaps the flowering of the liturgy in typical parish life? The new springtime of evangelization throughout the world?

  50. Malta says:

    jordanes

    It is my assertion that one can in truth be a better Catholic by ignoring VII

    BXVI wrote that in the final analysis not every ecumenical council has benefited the Church. The fourth Lateran Council said that jews and Muslims should wear distinctive dress–an example of a proscription ignored today. How many proscriptions from VII might the Church find prudent to ignore in the future? Many think VII changed the Church; it did not, but it has been used to unjustly hoist modernistic heresies upon the faithful by many modernistic, heretical Bishops, similar to what the Bishops did with the Arian heresy.

  51. David Kastel says:

    “Who could have predicted” the plummeting of vocations to the priesthood, the fall in power of bishops in individual dioceses in favor of congresses and conferences, the decline in belief in the real presence and of the sacrificial nature of the mass, the near elimination (in many parishes) of the practice of confession, etc. etc. etc.???

    I think readers of this blog know who predicted it…

  52. I think readers of this blog know who predicted it…

    How did you know that–within a few years after the close of Vatican II, and well before the promulgation of the Novus Ordo–most of this was quite evident to those us who were there then?

  53. David Kastel says:

    Another word from the “discontinuity camp”…

    The Catholic Church throughout history has always defined itself as the one and only Church founded by Christ the Lord…The Church of Christ IS the Catholic Church. Two different names for one entity. This is a discontinuity of the Council.

    a) The man “SUBSISTS IN” the house.
    b) The man “SUBSISTS AS” the house.

    Which statement declares the man to be identical with the house, and which declares the man to be a different entity from the house, but which has some relationship with the house?

    Now, which statement declares the Catholic Church to be identical with the Church of Christ, and which declares it to be a different entity?

    a) The Church of Christ “SUBSISTS IN” the Catholic Church
    b) The Church of Christ “SUBSISTS AS” the Catholic Church

    (Hint, the council chose to employ statement “a”)

  54. David Deavel says:

    One point to Brian above who says that divorce rates are nearly as high in the Church as outside. Brad Wilcox, a Sociologist of the Family at the University of Virginia (and Catholic convert), has written in TOUCHSTONE and many other places noting that his studies all show Catholics having a much lower divorce rate than the rest of the population. This does not mean that a) things are hunky-dorey or that b) many annulments are not decreed for specious reasons. But it does mean that, like Noah’s Ark, the stench inside might seem bad, but it’s still better than out in the flood.

  55. Ottaviani says:

    The best two books that I have ever read on Vatican II and what went on, was \”The Rhine Flows into the Tiber\” by Fr. Ralph Wiltgen and \”Iota Unum\” by Prof. Romano Amerio – both of whom were at the council itself, the later being the only lay periti at it.

  56. Jordanes says:

    Henry Edwards said: Ok, now that we’ve disposed of the theology of the body and its “matured understanding of marriage”

    I think you (or Jeannie rather, since you were responding to her prior statement) might be confusing the late pontiff’s theology of the body with what some of the silly or even outrageous things that its popularisers have been saying about it.

    Malta said: It is my assertion that one can in truth be a better Catholic by ignoring VII

    That’s what you’re asserting now. That’s not what you asserted above about Vatican II and Buddhism.

    Anyway, while it may be true that one can be a better Catholic by ignoring Vatican II (one can also be a better Catholic by being a pious 5-year-old who tragically falls ill of cancer and dies with his childlike trust in Jesus unimpaired), it can also be said that one can be a worse Catholic by ignoring Vatican II. Not that it’s actually possible to “ignore” Vatican II, of course — not even the most extreme of sedevacantists can do that.

    David Kastel said: Now, which statement declares the Catholic Church to be identical with the Church of Christ, and which declares it to be a different entity?

    a) The Church of Christ “SUBSISTS IN” the Catholic Church
    b) The Church of Christ “SUBSISTS AS” the Catholic Church

    The answer is c) This question has been incorrectly framed and therefore cannot be answered.

    “B” declares the Catholic Church to be identical with the Church of Christ, but neither “A” nor “B” declares it to be a different entity.

    (Hint, the council chose to employ statement “a”)

    Incorrect. The Vatican Fathers wrote in Latin, not English.

  57. Brian Anderson says:

    Hello Friends

    Just a few thoughts that do touch on some the points made. Sacrosanctum
    Concilium was promulgated on December 4, 1963. Inter Ecumenici, (the first
    Instruction on the Proper Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy) was
    published in September 1964. Correct me if I am wrong but this is before any
    other Conciliar document was promulgated. This is liturgical light
    speed. That said I am convinced that the bishops at the council for the most
    part had no idea what was about to happen, or they never would have
    promulgated the Constitution on the Liturgy. If they, in December of 1963
    could have looked into a crystal ball and saw beforehand the iconoclastic
    tsunami that was about to take place, they would have recoiled in horror.
    But yet these very same

    bishops returned to their dioceses, under the spell of a “contrived
    spirit of Vatican”. Within 3 1/2 years of the close of the council, the Novus
    Ordo was approved. What bishop would have dared question the changes and
    run the risk of being against the “spirit of the council”? Not many. Did any of
    these bishops ever say “We blew it?”

  58. Brian Wisconsin says:

    Kat:

    No saints being made in the post-conciliar era? While no fan of the “Spirit” that has infected the Church since the Council, it is flat out wrong to state that no saints have been made in that time. Simply go to Hagiography Circle (a web database of canonization causes). There are plenty of causes going forward from the post-Vatican II years, even a few from the United States.

    The best book to understand not the Council but what has happened since then is *The Signs of the Times: Understanding the Church since Vatican II* by Fr. Richard Gilsdorf of happy memory.

    Brian in Wisconsin

  59. Jeannie says:

    Brian,

    The 1917 code of canon law is consistent with the quotes you provided from Trent:

    Can 1013 §1. The primary end of marriage is procreation and the education of offspring: the secondary end is the mutual assistance and remedy against concupiscence.

    The 1983 code of canon law reflects a refinement in the theology:

    Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.

    This canonical change reflects the theological recognition (absent in 1917) that the good of the spouses is an end of marriage. The phrase, “good of the spouses” means with the objective of getting the spouses to heaven. This goes far beyond the “natural instinct” for “companionship”, and avoiding sins of lust. It is through their union that married persons are directed toward heaven. This is a development in our understanding of marriage. It appears to have come in the 20th century.

    Therefore, Brian, I do have, 1) an awareness of pre-Vatican II teaching on marriage, 2) evidence of the accuracy of my characterization of that teaching through its codification as the law of the Church, and 3) a 20-20 faith that maturation of theological thought continues to the present day.

  60. Bryan says:

    BTW, this book was also reviewed by Father Neuhaus in the October or November First Things in contrast to another recent book about the Council. The review compared the basics of continuity versus discontinuity and I recommend it highly.

  61. Jason Keener says:

    Some observations about Vatican II:

    1. Unfortunately, the Vatican II documents are ambiguous in some places, but it must also be remembered that the documents themselves were not meant to address every iota of Catholic teaching to the nth degree. That is one reason why the documents of Vatican II must be read alongside all other previous Catholic teaching. Pre-Vatican II documents might emphasize one aspect of a particular teaching while a Vatican II document might emphasize another aspect of the same teaching. Just because a Vatican II document emphasizes one aspect of a teaching does not mean that document intends to ignore or erase what was previously taught. (One document cannot do everything, after all.)

    2. There were/are many heretics and radicals who ignore what the Vatican II documents actually say. Also, many radicals carry on as if Vatican II was a new start from zero. These heretics have nothing to do with the real Vatican II. Demolition of the Church’s Liturgy and Tradition should be blamed on the radicals and heretics who ignored the Council’s documents. The documents themselves should not be blamed as the sole reason for our problems. No Vatican II document called for a totally new Missal, a totally new liturgical ethos, the destruction of Catholic architecture, the abandonment of Latin and Gregorian chant, etc.

    3. Vatican II seems to have occurred at an inopportune time. There were a lot of cultural changes occurring around the time of Vatican II and after. These rapid societal changes contributed greatly to the hi-jacking and misreading of the Council’s documents and true spirit.

    4. Satan and original sin are still working against us. I’m sure Satan and our fallen nature played some role in our improper implementation of the Council.

  62. Jason Keener says:

    Regarding theology of the body:

    While I do not agree with Pope John Paul II’s liturgical aberrations and scandalous ecumenical affairs at Assisi, etc., I do think his theology of the body is a legitimate deepening of our understanding of the marriage covenant. When we look at the Council or Pope John Paul II, we cannot write everything off they did as bad just because some of it was bad or ill-advised.

    In the past, the Church did often view marriage in terms of a contract. With theology of the body, Pope John Paul II wanted to bring out the fact that marriage is a contract, but it is also much, much more. Marital love and the begetting of children is a reflection of the very love and life exchanged between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This new and fuller understanding does not negate any previous Catholic teaching. It only builds on it.

    We also have to remember that the Church does believe we can come to a deeper understanding of the Faith as time goes on. This only makes sense in a Church where saints and theologians are guided by the Holy Spirit to contemplate the things of God.

    We also have to remember that God revealed Himself in stages in the Old Testament up until Christ, and our understanding of Revelation also comes in stages. As humans, we cannot comprehend everything at once. The only way we can learn is through a process of slow understanding through stages. Keeping that in mind, don’t automatically write off a new emphasis of Church teaching as being heretical. The Holy Spirit just might be bringing us to a deeper understanding of some truth. The Church in the Middle Ages was at first scandalized by St. Thomas Aquinas’s use of the works and ideas of the pagan Aristotle. In the end, Thomas Aquinas rightly turned out to be the greatest Doctor of the Church.

  63. Malta says:

    Jordones

    I think you might have missed my original point–I probably could have expressed it better

    Aetate Nostra says that Hindus are on a “loving, trusting flight towards God.”

    As Catholics, we believe there is one God, not many gods–yet VII seems to adulate false religions in such statements, at least in my opinion.

    That was the point I was trying to express.

    Take care my friend, and God bless you.

  64. Brian says:

    Jeannie,

    In your 12/26 10:06 pm post, you claimed that “For two millenia procreation was the only recognized purpose of marriage.” The above reference from the Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches several ends of marriage and contradicts your claim.

    In the same post you also contend that “the Church’s inclusion of the unitive purpose of marriage” was a maturation that newly developed with Vatican II.

    The same 1566 Catechism, however, instructs that “that Matrimony is far superior in its sacramental aspect and aims at an incomparably higher end” and explains, “of all human relations there is NONE that BINDS SO CLOSELY AS the MARRIAGE-tie, and from the fact that HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE BOUND TO ONE ANOTHER BY THE GREATEST AFFECTION AND LOVE. Hence it is that Holy Writ so frequently represents to us the Divine Union of Christ and the Church under the figure of marriage.”

    That passage beautifully addresses the unitive end of marriage. If I am missing something, please let me know.

    Now, you argue that with Vatican II, there was a new matured “theological recognition (absent in 1917) that the good of the spouses is an end of marriage.” You state, “The phrase, ‘good of the spouses’ means with the objective of getting the spouses to heaven . . . It is through their union that married persons are directed toward heaven. This is a development in our understanding of marriage. It appears to have come in the 20th century.”

    Do you really believe that the teaching that a sacramental end of marriage is the union of the spouses ordered to their sanctification was a teaching that was absent in the Church until the 20th century? If so, please read on:

    With regard to marriage and “the objective of getting the spouses to heaven,” in 1563, the Council of Trent instructed, “the grace which might perfect that natural love, and confirm that indissoluble union, and SANCTIFY the married, Christ Himself, the institutor and perfecter of the venerable sacraments, merited for us by His passion.”

    So then, with regard to “the objective of getting the spouses to heaven” Council of Trent instructs that the grace of marriage perfects the natural love of marriage, confirms their indissoluble union, and sanctifies the married, which, of course, means that marriage has “the objective of getting the spouses to heaven.”

    In 1880, Pope Leo XIII taught:

    “what was decreed and constituted in respect to marriage by the authority of God has been more fully and more clearly handed down to us, by tradition and the written Word, through the Apostles, those heralds of the laws of God. To the Apostles, indeed, as our masters, are to be referred the DOCTRINES WHICH ‘our Holy Fathers, the Councils, and the TRADITION of the Universal Church have ALWAYS TAUGHT,’ namely, that Christ our Lord raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament; that TO HUSBAND AND WIFE, guarded and strengthened by the heavenly grace which His merits gained for them, HE GAVE POWER TO ATTAIN HOLINESS IN THE MARRIED STATE; and that, in a wondrous way, making marriage an example of the mystical union between himself and the Church, He not only perfected that love which is according to nature, but also MADE THE NATURALLY INDIVISIBLE UNION of one man with one woman far MORE PERFECT THROUGH THE BOND OF HEAVENLY LOVE.”

    So then, Pope Leo XIII instructs us that our Holy Fathers, Councils, and Tradition of the Church have ALWAYS TAUGHT US that through the sacrament of marriage, husband and wife are given grace of a supernatural unitive bond that directs them toward attaining holiness in the married state; which, of course, means that an important end of the sacrament of marriage is “the objective of getting the spouses to heaven.”

    Consistent with these teachings, the Baltimore Catechism taught:

    The chief ends of the Sacrament of Matrimony are:
    1. To enable the husband and wife to aid each other in securing the salvation of their souls;
    2. To propagate or keep up the existence of the human race by bringing children into the world to serve God;
    3. To prevent sins against the holy virtue of purity by faithfully obeying the laws of the marriage state.

    And that

    The effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony are:
    1. To sanctify the love of husband and wife;
    2. To give them grace to bear with each other’s weaknesses;
    3. To enable them to bring up their children in the fear and love of God.

    So here the Baltimore Catechism teaches that one essential effect of the Sacrament of Matrimony is “to sanctify the love of husband and wife;” and one essential end is to “enable the husband and wife to aid each other in securing the salvation of their souls.”

    Clearly, “theological recognition . . . that the good of the spouses is an end of marriage . . . (with) the objective of getting the spouses to heaven . . . through their union” is not a new teaching that “appears to have come in the 20th century.” As Pope Leo XIII instructs, it is a doctrine that our Holy Fathers, the Councils, and the Tradition of the Universal Church have always taught.

    Jeannie, please forgive my earlier remarks about “spirit of Vatican II.” They were not helpful.

  65. Gramps says:

    Once again, the post Vatican II was plauged by many Bishops and priest who did their own thing and use Vatican II as their excuse. If the Pope over the next 40 let them do their thing, I blame the Pope for not stepping in and using the power of his position to get them back on track our out. All during the sex abuse scandal, no bishops were sent out. Father Z, maybe you can take a little time in a post to explain why excommunication is not used in the many blatant cases of bishops, priests, and yes Cardinals that have gone so far off actual teaching.

  66. RBrown says:

    The Church in the Middle Ages was at first scandalized by St. Thomas Aquinas’s use of the works and ideas of the pagan Aristotle. In the end, Thomas Aquinas rightly turned out to be the greatest Doctor of the Church.
    Comment by Jason Keener

    Why would the Church have been scandalized by St Thomas using the works of the pagan Aristotle when prior theologians, e.g., Gregory of Nyssa and Pseudo-Dionysius, used the thought of the equally pagan Platon?

  67. Jordanes says:

    Malta said: Aetate Nostra says that Hindus are on a “loving, trusting flight towards God.” As Catholics, we believe there is one God, not many gods—yet VII seems to adulate false religions in such statements, at least in my opinion.

    The only thing Nostra Aetate has to say about Hinduism and Buddhism is found in this paragraph that cites examples of good and true things that may be found in natural religion:

    Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.

    Thus, Nostra Aetate does not say that Hindus are on a “loving, trusting flight towards God.” Rather, it says that in Hinduism one of the ways that men can try to find freedom from the anguish of our human condition is through a flight to God with love and trust. Read in context, this is not adulation of Hinduism, but a acknowledgement of how men attempt and have attempted to find a solution to the fundamental questions of human existence within Hinduism. It mentions a few of the things that happen to be good about Hinduism: after all, even the most deformed and disordered of natural religions will have some truth and good in it.

  68. Federico says:

    The “anti-spam” word is continuity, which is a good choice for the topic.

    Brian, Jeannie et. al. I think you’re not in significant disagreement assuming, and I do, that we can all agree that VII was an actual ecumenical council.

    That being said, I think it did provide a more nuanced understanding of the spirituality of marriage. There is no question that the Church discovered nothing new and that the only acceptable hermeneutic of VII is one of continuity. But at the same time, there is a more nuanced understanding of what marriage is, what it takes to make it, and what it is not. The numerous speeches of JPII, as well as his innumerable allocutions to the Roman Rota speak to that fact (see, for an example of the application of these insights a decision coram Civili reported in Studia Canonica 19 [2005] 109). He was not providing innovation, but additional depth. And there’s little question this will continue to deepen (matrimony, by the way, is a sacrament that has generated much canonical thought but not nearly the same level of theological thought; I doubt it’s because it is the most trivial).

    Brian, would you disagree that, for instance, Lumen gentium 25 clarified the magisterial vigor of (and the required response of the faithful to) various teachings? Sure, this stuff was already present in the Church’s understanding of itself since Apostolic times. We see evidence of the exercise of papal authority, for instance, in pope Siricius’ decretal. But this was embryonic and, to be fair, even the first attempted codification of papal primacy (canon 6 of Nicaea) was at least ambiguous. This evolved over the years, VI first put some crystal to it and I would argue that LG 25 provided significantly greater clarity. Nothing new, but clearer and more nuanced.

    We could talk about ecclesiological points, regarding Ecclesiarum orientalium too. Yes, been said before, but not as clearly, not as fully, and without some of the specific decrees regarding ascription.

    In the end, VII was an ecumenical council. Understanding its additions to the Faith is not required for salvation. But it seems foolish to dismiss it. It must be applied and understood according to a hermeneutic of continuity.

  69. Brian says:

    Federico,

    It is, at least, pre-mature to hold that Vatican II provided the Church with maturation and advances in understanding.

    I agree with Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., above: “there is virtually nothing in the documents to support the discontinuity thesis, but . . . the style and tone of the documents seems in complete discontinuity with earlier ways ecclesiatical language and attitudes.”

    Whether, as you say, the new style and tone provides a “more nuanced understanding” or whether that style clouds clear Church teaching due to ambiguous language and to the over-valuation of nuanced terms, remains open to debate.

    Early results, suggest the latter may be the case.

    Brian

  70. Barney Quillinan says:
  71. Jason Keener says:

    Hi, RBrown.

    Some in the Church of the Middle Ages were scandalized by St. Thomas Aquinas because he attempted to show that natural reason and Aristotelian principles could be used to understand the Sacred Deposit of Faith. This was quite a break from how theology was TYPICALLY done up until that point. The traditional method of theology USUALLY involved a critical reading or exegesis of Sacred Scripture. In addition, the writings of the Church Fathers were used to understand certain Scripture passages. These opinions were all brought together in works like Peter Lombard’s “Sentences.” The emphasis of theology was mostly apologetical in nature. Speculation and the principles of philosophy were not used all that often to examine the Deposit of Faith.

    It seems that Aquinas’s use of Aristotle was more controversial than Nyssa’s use of Plato because Aquinas was proposing a revolutionary outlook on the whole relationship between philosophy and theology. Also, the major commentaries that accompanied Aristotle’s works were written by two Muslim thinkers, Avicenna and Averroes. This raised some suspicions as well.

    In any event, the larger point is this: If St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Thomas Aquinas could profitably make use of the ideas of pagan thinkers like Plato and Aristotle, we should not be so quick to dismiss Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body because of its initial uniqueness. What at first might seem odd, novel, or incompatible with the Catholic Faith might turn out in the end to be very helpful in developing our understanding of the Faith, as was the case with some of the ideas of Plato and Aristotle.

  72. Hugo says:

    Jason:

    A major work on TOB is now available from pro-Life scholar Randy Engel.

    This is heavy stuff and she doesn’t pull punches.

  73. RBrown says:

    Jason Keener,

    Not exactly correct.

    There were two main objections to St Thomas. The first was because of the presence of the mendicants at the University of Paris. The old hands, e.g., William of Champeaux, objected to the new mendicant orders horning in on their academic territory. (You might be aware that the Franciscans obtained a chair in theology in Paris only when Alexander of Hales became a Franciscan.)

    The second objection was not concerned with the introduction of a new theological method (nor one using a pagan thinker). Rather, it was because certain people (e.g., Siger of Brabant) were following the interpretation of Aristotle (e.g., that of Averroes–Ibn Rushd) that was inimical to the faith. Among the problems was one agent intellect for all men as well as the necessity of God’s Creative Act. You might be aware that one of St Thomas’ opusculum is De unitate intellectus, written to clarify his position relative to that of the Averroists.

    I am certainly not dismissing JPII’s theology of the body, of which the moral teaching is one component. Although the basic principles can be found in St Thomas, it seems to me that JPII also has incorporated the Eastern concept of the Icon (here the body).

    I do have to admit, however, that I probably disagree with what seems to me to be JPII’s position on marriage–that it is the natural state of man. Having said that, I am also in disagreement with Gregory of Nyssa (and von Balthasar) on the matter.

  74. Athelstane says:

    Regarding Jeanie’s and Brian’s dialogue on the ends of marriage:

    Brian is right to point out the official Church teaching on the nature and ends of marriage in the Tridentine era, which was richer and deeper than commonly supposed. On the other hand, it is also true that many of the moral theology manuals up through the 19th century (and certainly, alas, pastoral practice in more than a few places) did not always reflect this understanding of marriage.

    That hardly damns the teaching itself, obviously. Or implicates the late Pope John Paul II’s speculative Theology of the Body – which, while presenting problematic aspects, offers new possibilities which require urgent examination in this age of sexual confusions. It was, after all, Karol Wojtyla’s own pastoral experience (in very conservative Poland, no less) that the actual reception of the Church’s marriage teachings required closer analysis for the coming age.

  75. RBrown says:

    A few years ago I read an article by, I think, Msgr Cormac Burke, an Opus Dei priest who was a member of the Roman Rota. In it he places the consortium totius (or omnis) vitae as the end of marriage. The Bonum Coniujum (good of the spouses) and Bonus Prolis (procreation and education of offspring) are posited by him as properties of marriage.

    IMHO, he is using the word “end” (finis) in the sense of St Thomas, i.e., in the order of intention, which is always interior.

  76. Tim N says:

    Father Neuhaus’s review sadly violates an ethical standard against reviewing one’s own scholarship or joint efforts that one has substantively contributed to. His review (which appears in slightly altered forms both in the New York Sun and in First Things (another dubious practice)) compares two works: Father O’Malley’s _What Happened_ and a volume of collected scholarship on Vatican II, edited by Fr Matthew Lamb and Mr Matthew Levering, _Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition_. Fr Neuhaus concludes that Fr O’Malley’s book is “the better read” but that the Lamb-Levering volume offers the more accurate analysis. The ethical problem stems from the fact that Father Neuhaus contributed a chapter to the Lamb-Levering volume. Writers (or serious ones) should never ever review their own works, even when this means “only” a chapter in a collected volume. That Fr Neuhaus admits the conflict of interest in the course of the review does not remove, excuse, or attenuate the conflict. It only makes the problem more flagrant … and disappointing. TN

  77. Hugo says:

    Tim N:

    I try not to mention ethical standards and that priest (pray for him as he is ill) in the same sentence after he diverted Fidelity Press funds towards his new neo-con rag First Things.

  78. Jordanes says:

    I don’t know what Hugo is referring to. I know of an Orlando-based printer called Fidelity Press, and I know of Culture Wars Magazine and Fidelity Press, but I’m not aware that Father Neuhaus has ever had any connection to those entities (I’d be surprised if Father Neuhaus had ever been affiliated with Culture Wars, though I guess anything is possible).

    As for Tim N’s accusations, I’m not sure Father Neuhaus has violated any alleged standards of ethics. Editing and revising one’s work when it is republished is perfectly ethical and not at all dubious, and he was a contributor of just one essay in the Lamb-Levering volume, like a participant in a colloquium: he was not a co-author of the book, so his contribution can’t be said to be “substantive.” There’s nothing unethical about informing and opining about a forum that one has participated in, so long as one lays one’s cards on the table as Father Neuhaus did.

  79. Jason Keener says:

    RBrown,

    I agree that the things you mentioned were also reasons people objected to Thomas Aquinas. There seems to have been several factors.

  80. Hugo says:

    Jordanes:

    It was the magazine that would be renamed Culture Wars after that episode.

  81. RBrown says:

    should be: and Bonum Prolis (procreation and education of offspring) are posited by him as properties of marriage.