Georgetown Jesuit makes Pres. Obama into America’s Pope

There is a particularly disgusting article in the Jesuit-run America Magazine by John W. O’Malley, S.J., of the theology department at Georgetown University.

While this is sort of old news now, I think it deserves a fisk.

Before continuing, please note that I spoke my piece about Notre Dame and Pres. Obama.  While I will revisit the event from time to time, I won’t be hammering away at it too much.

I address this new piece not merely for the Notre Dame issue, but other issues which interest me.

Mainly, you should note that this America article puts on display how deeply mired some of these people are in the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture which Pope Benedict is trying to correct.

Also, the writer misappropriates the "Fathers of the Church" in a particularly egregious way.

Anyway, a little background – since the writer is a Jesuit and a prof at the suborned Georgetown.  Georgetown bent over backwards for the Obama White House and covered over the Holy Name of Jesus at his request.

Also, highly placed progressivist Catholics have been openly pandering to power.   They have compromised themselves and the Church in the United States on the matter of abortion.

Moreover, in past entries I suggested that, since Georgetown and Notre Dame, the progressivists have declared Pres. Obama to be their new Pope?  The article below from America provides more evidence.  

Not only is there a new Pope, it seems we know have a new Magisterium, a progressivist and discontinuous Magisterium of rupture built around select buzz words from the Second Vatican Council.

Let’s read the America piece with my emphases and comments.

Barack Obama and Vatican II
The president’s persona and the spirit of the council
John W. O’Malley | MAY 25, 2009
We have a Vatican II president. Barack Obama, I am sure, does not think of himself in those terms, but when I heard his speech at Grant Park in Chicago the night he was elected, and more recently his commencement address at Notre Dame, that is what immediately struck me. On those occasions he embodied and professed in his public persona the spirit of the council. In making that statement I know that I am entering a minefield. Catholics who denounce the president for his stance on abortion are of course responsible for many of the mines in the field, but their mines have been so thoroughly discussed lately that for the sake of brevity I will bypass them here[Only to bring it up again at the end… tuck this little note away.]

The other set of mines in the field comes from the expression “the spirit of Vatican II.” The expression, used widely at the time of the council and given a certain official standing at the Synod of Bishops in 1985, ["a certain official status"?  I have no idea what "certain official status" means. If you look at the final document of the Synod, that expression doesn’t appear.  And even if it is, that wouldn’t give it any sort of "official status".  Synods gather to talk about what the Pope wants them to talk about and the Pope uses what he wants from their deliberations.  They cannot do anything on their own.] has lately in Roman circles been quietly downgraded, if not dismissed as meaningless. No doubt, the expression has been abused to justify interpretations far removed from what the bishops intended, and it has seemed all too prone to ideological manipulation. Your “spirit of the council” is not my “spirit of the council.

Yet [This is where things get interesting…] the expression has a legitimate place in our vocabulary and is in fact almost indispensable for grasping the big message the council wanted to deliver. By “the spirit of the council” I mean [He defines his own use of the term, which is fair.  Just remember to dismiss that twaddle about "certain official status", above…] simply general orientations that transcended particular issues.  In my book, What Happened at Vatican II, I argue that beneath the particular issues the council dealt with—episcopal collegiality, for instance, and religious liberty—more profound and far-reaching issues lurked. [A conciliar
"sub-text"?  What the Council really said?]
I call these the issues-under-the-issues. I ground them in the texts of the council and in that way ground “the spirit of the council” and give it verifiable substance. [A nice slight of hand.  Clever.]   

[I think we have to agree that he is right about this next part.] Among the issues-under-the issues was style, ["style" is a slippery word, but read on…] the issue especially pertinent for grounding “the spirit of the council.” The council spoke in a new style, a style different from all previous councils. [Okay…..]  It eschewed words implying punishment, surveillance, hostility, distrust and coerced behavior-modification that characterized previous councils. [Yah… okay….]  It employed words that espoused a new model for Christian behavior—not new, of course, to the Christian tradition as such, but new to council vocabulary. [Right… and this was a "pastoral Council", right?]  I am referring to words like brothers and sisters, cooperation, partnership, human family, conscience, collegiality and especially dialogue. [The magic word… ] The new words cannot be dismissed as casual asides or mere window dressing.  The council used them too insistently, intentionally and characteristically for them to be that. This new vocabulary made the council a major language-event in the history of the church.   [We stipulate.  The problem is that Vatican II does not magically take precedence over all other Councils.  The fact that it employs new vocabulary doesn’t mean that we discount other Councils because they didn’t  use that vocabulary.  What he is has jammed in here is the thin-edge of discontinuity.]

The shift in vocabulary had profound ramifications. It meant a shift in values and priorities. [Do you hear it?  That hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture?  He is detaching V2 from previous Councils.]  Critical among these new values was [wait for it] civility [!!] in dealing with persons of different faiths or convictions and a willingness to listen to them with docile heart and mind. This civility was not a superficial tactic but a manifestation of an inner conversion. [Perhaps he has written a book on this… and I have not read it… perhaps some who lived in those days possess a knowledge of the documents younger people do not]…  but this smacks of secret doctrine, gnosticism.]  It of course did not mean surrendering one’s beliefs, but it did mean surrendering one’s beliefs, but it did mean a willingness to learn from others and a refusal to condemn them without a hearing. Such openness of mind and heart is the essence of genuine dialogue[We have to agree with some of these statements.  We do have a new tone today because of V2.  This new tone is applied to those with whom we previously dealt in a colder way, Protestants, Communists, non-Christians, etc.  What we won’t admit is a shift in priorities and values…. unless you have secret knowledge of what the texts really mean.  Yes the Vatican Council included this conciliatory language together with other traditional terms.  For example it condemned abortion as an unspeakable crime, as if the Council Fathers foresaw the liberalization of abortion that would occur in the near future….]

The council hoped that this new style of being, which brings with it a new way of proceeding, would lead to cooperation among all persons of good will—Catholics and non-Catholics, Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers—on the new, massive, and sometimes terrifying problems that face humanity today. This new way of proceeding in large part constituted “the spirit of the council.” It was one of the big messages the council delivered to the church and to the world at large. [Be careful.  Don’t just admit all this weight behind "the spirit of Vatican II", the weight the writer gives to it.]

That is why when I heard Obama’s two speeches I was struck by how much he spoke in accord with the spirit of Vatican II[He set up his premise, which you were supposed to accept, and now he is running with it.] In those two addresses, as well as in his other speeches, he called for civility, for the end of name-calling, and for a willingness to work together to deal with our common problems, including abortion, [This is really all about abortion.  Also, doesn’t this sound like the view of a Rawlsian?  This is Rawls-speak.] rather than a stand-off determination to impose one’s principles without reckoning what the cost to the common good might be. ["Imposing one’s principles" is bad.  "Civility", for O’Malley, is in opposition to "imposing principles".   This sounds like John Rawls, the patron saint of reasonableness and civility.  O’Malley is basically saying "shut up about abortion" because the President wants you to shut up about abortion.  Liberals hate "imposing principles", unless their own principles are the principles being imposed.  BTW… weren’t soldiers sent to impose principles of desegregation?   And do not forget that Gaudium et spes called abortion an unspeakable crime.  But we are simply to SHUT UP about abortion.  If we don’t, we are not being "civil".    We are "unreasonable".] 

President Jenkins of Notre Dame called attention to Obama’s oratorical gifts. Such gifts are consonant with the rhetorical tradition that produced the spirit of Vatican II. The council deliberately chose to speak as much as possible “in the pastoral style of the Fathers,” who were schooled from their earliest days in the rhetorical tradition. That tradition is what made them such effective preachers and leaders of their communities. [Problem: Eloquentia in the Church Fathers included polemic.  O’Malley conveniently leaves out polemic.  The Fathers were not irenic with people who prompted unspeakable crimes.  Shall we look at some of St. Augustine’s gentle, reasonable, pastoral remarks about the Bishop of Eclanum?  Shall we muse about how Jerome wrote about some people?  And John Chrysostom to the Empress a model of gentleness and reasonableness in his pastoral style.  For O’Malley, "pastoral" means … well… kissing up, I think.   I prefer Archbp. Chaput’s approach.]

Classical theorists about rhetoric like Cicero and Quintilian described it as the art of winning consensus, [ROFL!  It was the art of winning.  Rhetorical skills were used to bring people to your side.  And when it came to pastors such as Augustine of Hippo, even using force from time to time.] the art of bringing people together for a common cause. It is an art, please note, closely related to ethics, for those same theorists described the truly successful orator as vir bonus dicendi peritus–a good man, skilled in public speaking. It is an art in which Obama excels and which, certainly unwittingly, puts him in touch with the spirit of Vatican II. [Sounds like a gnostic, pointing to the acquisition of knowledge through, what… a seance?  Also, this morning a friend pointed out what Augustine says, in City of God, namely, that one of the most effective public speakers is SATAN.   "You shall be as gods", was the first political speech of the City of Man, or rather the City of the Devil.  Political discourse is rooted in the rhetoric of the devil, a deceptive rhetoric.  Politicians try to persuade us always along these lines: we shall live as gods.  The writer might review Dodaro, R. Christ and the Just Society in Augustine, p. 66-69.   "Satan’s is, therefore, the archetypal seduction because it embodies the form of all future misdirection of the soul.  Similarly, it constitutes the prototype for all secular political discourse, in that it displaces within the soul the original blessing of life lived for the sake of authentic spiritual communion, and introduces in its stead the illusion of self-sufficiency and of satisfaction with a lack of moral rectitude."  "In Augustine’s view, this retreat into a rival ‘creation’ by Adam and Eve inaugurates the realm of the essentially private.  Such, indeed, as the political form of Satan’s own pride: a self-deception whcih rejected the exclusive divine claim to hegemony, and substituted the domain of self-rule.  Satan’s rival city remains eternally devoid of truth because its genesis represents an act of usurpation.  Augustine’s insistence upon the fundamental mendacity of Satan’s actions is intended to establish the eloquent lie as the cause of social and political disruption characteristic of the earthly city, where he holds sway."  (see ciu. 14.4.)]

I often hear laments that the spirit of Vatican II is dead in the church. [In some circles I am sure that it so.]  Is it not ironic that not a bishop but the President of the United States [episkopos ton ekton?] should today be the most effective spokesperson for that spirit? [Behold, the new papacy… the new Magisterium!] To judge from the enthusiastic response he received from the graduates at Notre Dame, his message captured their minds and hearts.  [Yah.. right… there’s a good measure…] Maybe through young Catholics like those at Notre Dame who are responding to Obama’s message the spirit of Vatican II will, almost through the back door, reenter the church. [Soooo… they aren’t in it now?  Even after being at Notre Dame?] The history of the church has, after all, taken stranger turns than that.   [And we know where they lead.]

John W. O’Malley, S.J., is university professor, theology department, at Georgetown University and author of What Happened at Vatican II.

There is much more to say… but after that trudge… I need to go wash.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. jamie says:

    I think you may taking Fr. O’Malley a little bit further than he can be taken. That is, he points out that the so-called “spirit of Vatican II” has more to do with a shift in vocabulary and rhetoric than in teaching, and then compares that shift in vocabulary and rhetoric to Obama’s vocabulary and rhetoric. Even if Obama doesn’t say what the Fathers said at Vatican II, it is significant that, in many respects, he’s saying things how they were said at Vatican II, and, in the long run, looked at from the perspective of a historian (which is what O’Malley is), that may be more significant. In the short run, of course, Obama is terribly and excessively pro-abortion. But by using a rhetoric of morality when talking about abortion, he may be undermining the pro-infanticide cause by encouraging people to look at it as a moral issue, and if an historian tries to guess which will be more important in the long run, it will almost certainly be the rhetoric.

    In sum, if you consider the propositional content of what Obama says, he couldn’t be further from Vatican II. But if you look at how he says things, he may be quite close to Vatican II. (Granted, this is a superficial closeness, but its importance shouldn’t be overlooked)

  2. Fr. Charles says:

    I don’t know if he still teaches it, but when I was in theology Fr. O’Malley was famous for his course that studied the Councils of Trent and Vatican II side by side. I audited the course and was grateful; his knowledge is incredible and he is an engaging teacher. I continue to use my notes and cherish my copy of the Tridentine canons which I annotated and underlined in during the lectures.

    The thesis he tries to communicate has to do with this category of “style,” as it appears in this article, and the suggestion that Vatican II introduced a “vocabulary shift” toward (as the article says) words like dialogue, cooperation, “brothers and sisters,” etc.

    This is certainly true at least in the sense that there is a change in “style” with Vatican II. But I think the problem and the error arrives with those who understand “dialogue” and “cooperation” to be opposed to what is not subject (by definition) historical changes in style, such as natural law and Divine revelation, i.e. absolute truths. Too often dialogue and such means relativism, and this is certainly the case if we want to follow where our civic culture is going.

  3. Mark says:

    Honestly, I have to say I agree with his analysis of Vatican II and the clear rupture it caused. Now, he is in favor of that rupture and I am against it, but it clearly happened. People who try to interpret continuity into existence when there was clearly a linguistic revolution…are being intellectually dishonest. And a shift in language causes a shift in thought.

    A more ambiguous Newspeak was deliberately introduced (both in words and symbols), and that should terrify any real Catholic. A “major language event” DID happen, and it’s horrifying. The great thing is, though, if a shift could happen in one direction (without teaching heresy) there is no reason we couldnt go back. We CAN just dismiss it. We CAN just ignore it. It was a fiasco, and its about time we just admit it and discard it.

  4. ckdexterhaven says:

    Even before I found a Catholic Blog, I heard people refer to “The Spirit of Vatican II” in a derisive manner. I ascribed it to a small minority of people, but sounds like the Jesuits are fully aware of this… and they don’t like it.

    Fr. O’Malley says this:
    “Critical among these new values was civility in dealing with persons of different faiths or convictions and a willingness to listen to them with docile heart and mind”
    This statement is infuriating. The Jesuits and those at Notre Dame don’t treat certain people in the Catholic faith with civility. The dismissive, antagonistic way they treated those genuinely offended by Obama’s speech at ND and when Georgetown covered up the name of Jesus, was hurtful. Fr. Jenkins wasn’t willing to listen with a docile heart and mind.

    As always, St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle.

  5. Geoffrey says:

    “… but after that trudge… I need to go wash.”

    Me too! I think this also calls for wine with dinner tonight!

    Have these people ever actually read the documents of Vatican II?!

  6. eft says:
    English->Papal Archive->Paul VI->Motu Proprio
    Sacram Liturgiam (January 25, 1964)
    establishes Consilium
    English->Papal Archive->Paul VI->Speeches->1964
    Thanking the Sacred College for the wishes on his name-day (June 23, 1964)
    “… have put into the hands of a special Consilium the responsibility both for preparing the overall liturgical reform on the basis of the norms of the Constitution and for studying how the decisions of the Council may be applied in letter and spirit through ways that are effective and proper to the Holy See …”
    English->Papal Archive->Paul VI->Apostolic Constitution
    Sacra Rituum Congregatio (May 8, 1969)
    disolves Consilium

    So, given the above, I think the “Spirit of Vatican Two” is determined by the Consilium, nobody else, and since the Consilium no longer exists, nobody can be a member of it. Lots of wannabees, though.

  7. Mark says:

    Wow… I don’t know what to say. Unbelievable, maybe? I’m not knowledgeable enough to put in too much of my own two cents, I’ll admit that, but I do realize that the statement, “In those two addresses, as well as in his other speeches, he called for civility, for the end of name-calling, and for a willingness to work together to deal with our common problems, including abortion, rather than a stand-off determination to impose one’s principles without reckoning what the cost to the common good might be. ” is hogwash. To think that the “Spirit of Vatican II” was that Catholics needed to water down the Truth and not stand up for what is right so that we could all just get along is silly. I don’t feel like trying to sound profound right now, so I’ll just leave it at silly hogwash.

  8. Aaron says:

    I don’t agree with his conclusions, but I can’t argue with his central point that Obama exemplifies the “spirit of Vatican II” — what that phrase means to both its supporters and detractors. Putting collegiality before defending the Faith, style over substance, “dialogue” and “reasonableness” ahead of right and wrong, innovation ahead of tradition… These are all things that have been foisted on us in the “spirit of Vatican II,” and Obama fits them to a T.

  9. Gail F says:

    “Critical among these new values was civility in dealing with persons of different faiths or convictions and a willingness to listen to them with docile heart and mind.”

    Umm… I don\’t think so. BUT, assuming for a moment that this is true, it is not what President Obama actually does. What President Obama does is SAY that he respects and will listen to other opinions, smile politely while thinking of something else, and then do whatever he had planned to do in the first place.

    That is not \”dialogue.\” And if that\’s what \”the Spirit of Vatican II\” is, then needs it?

  10. Mitchell NY says:

    Well I couldn’t agree with you assessment more Father, and afterwards just thought to myself “And how do we turn this around”? To speak certain truths, certain evils, we are labeled, even by many in the Church as old fashioned, out of touch, pushy, uncivil, or intolerant. And yet if we keep all these truths to ourselves and not speak to others about these dangers we are labeled “secular” which the Church is so vocally opposed to as well. So what do we do? How are we ever right in the eyes of the Church if we take either of these two actions?

  11. j says:

    OK, actually, I agree with the premise, but not as stated.
    Obama IS the “spirit of Vatican II” President, not the Vatican II President.

    Of course, he then goes on to stipulate that, as opposed to Vatican II itself, the “spirit of Vatican II” is all about style, not substance (admit it, Obama to a tee).

  12. Ioannes Andreades says:

    A young Cicero openly wondered whether rhetoric brought more evil or more good to people and societies. Clearly, rhetoric without wisdom was detrimental to society. Cicero also later bragged how he pulled with wool over the jury’s eyes during his defense of Cluentius.

    It also seems to me that the Fr. O’Malley has never read any John Chrysostom or Jerome. Their style is anything but “pastoral” in the modern torpid sense. Correction of thought and behavior is an extension of charity, not hatred.

    Why, oh, why did I have to read this right after dinner? Better go take something to soothe my stomach.

  13. Rancher says:

    Proves that some Jesuits while well educated are not necessarily smart….nor do they possess much in the way of good judgement or common sense. Now that I think about it, adherence to orthodox teaching, obedience and a few other desireable qualities are lacking as well. I have not just a headache but a stomach ache from reading his coronation of the evil Marxist Messiah!

  14. Geoffrey says:

    Please, please, let us distinguish between the TRUE “Spirit of Vatican II” and the FALSE “Spirit of Vatican II.

  15. BLC says:

    I think we need another ‘Good News’ post to cheer us up after reading that twaddle! Father Z, excellent job as usual.

  16. The idea that the term “the Spirit of Vatican II” was given an official standing by the extraordinary synod of bishops is nonsense. In fact, the opposite is true, as the bishops issued a correction to those who separate the council’s spirit from its letter. Here is the key excerpt from the final report:

    5. A deeper reception of the Council

    These and other deficiencies show the need for a deeper reception of the Council. And this requires four successive phases: a deeper and more extensive knowledge of the Council, its interior assimilation, its loving reaffirmation and its implementation. Only interior assimilation and practical implementation can make the conciliar documents alive and life-giving.

    The theological interpretation of the conciliar doctrine must show attention to all the documents, in themselves and in their close inter-relationship, in such a way that the integral meaning of the Council’s affirmations–often very complex–might be understood and expressed. Special attention must be paid to the four major Constitutions of the Council, which contain the interpretative key for the other Decrees and Declarations. It is not licit to separate the pastoral character from the doctrinal vigor of the documents. In the same way, it is not legitimate to separate the spirit and the letter of the Council. Moreover, the Council must be understood in continuity with the great tradition of the Church, and at the same time we must receive light from the Council’s own doctrine for today’s Church and the men of our time. The Church is one and the same throughout all the councils.

  17. problem says:

    Obama is brilliant and a formidable foe. He seems to recognize that the Church is internally divided and is now pitting Catholic (liberal) against Catholic (Ortho). In effect, what this does is to neutralize any influence that the conservative bishops have. Rome is not helping any of this.

    Eventually, the bishops will be forced to react but it will be too late to stop the tide. Obama will look tolerant and the bishops will look divisive. Most will defect.

  18. LCB says:

    Oy Vey.

    It’s one thing to write a piece like this.

    It’s quite another to write this line, “Is it not ironic that not a bishop but the President of the United States should today be the most effective spokesperson for that spirit [of Vatican II]?”

    He would do well to consider that it is not 1968, and that there is no faster way to scorn a Bishop than to suggest someone else other than he wields power and speaks for the Church.

    Regardless, the liberals are making their position clear. They stand behind The New Messiah, for his Most Holy Sacrament of Abortion, and his Gospel of Statism. He, Barack Obama, is the path of entering the Church, not Christ Jesus. Outside Obama, No Salvation.

    As for me and my house, we shall serve Christ Jesus.

  19. Fr. Benedict says:

    “problem’s’ point is most pertinent – and prophetic – be warned!

  20. Jesuits says:

    I think the Jesuits need to be suppressed. The Society of Jesus has served their purpose and the reason they existed is no longer relevant. Why are they still around?

  21. Andreas says:

    “… and the suggestion that Vatican II introduced a “vocabulary shift” toward (as the article says) words like dialogue, cooperation, “brothers and sisters,” etc.”

    I wonder about this notion of a vocabulary shift. Are they relying on English translations to come to that conclusion? None of the documents of Vatican II where written in English. I challenge anyone to find the Latin equivalent of such things as “brothers and sisters” in any of the Vat. II document.

  22. ED says:

    And still Father Jenkins sits in the Presidents chair at Notre Dame, this is the Pope’s scandal by allowing these priests to do as they please ,he can remove them.

  23. michigancatholic says:

    I am s-o-o-o past caring what some old Jesuit crackpot might have to say, it’s not funny. I think the Jesuits ought to be suspended, myself, and I’ve thought so for a long time now.

  24. JD, Esq. says:

    Fr. Z,

    This is an excellent fisking of the political philosophy of the dictatorship of relativism. You are exactly right to point to John Rawls as culprit. Reasonableness means people with conviction on important moral questions have to shut up so everyone gets along. But that never applies to liberal goals, as you rightly pointed out in your desegregation example.

    The best current example of the liberal double-standard is the persecution of those that support state-based initiatives to preserve marriage like Prop 8 in California. You. Must. Obey.

    This is a great example of the classic “Washington, DC gaffe” where someone actually says what they really think. Liberal Catholicism is really just liberalism (Rawls). Liberal Catholics give (modern) liberalism an extra twinge of nastiness, though, when they spiritualize it and create Obamessiah and proclaim themselves the alternative magisterium. At least most secular liberals are content advancing an agenda of “freedom”, namely, do what you want without interference. Liberal Catholics make liberalism a moral obligation.

    There is no little irony that the “dynamic”, “Spirit of Vatican II” pastors that became bishops during the Jadot era like Weakland and Hunthausen turned out to be tyrants when they became bishops.

  25. michigancatholic says:

    Suppressed is probably the word I meant…no…what I really meant is that the order ought to be dissolved and they’d ought to marooned on a half dozen desert islands where they can’t corrupt anyone anymore.

  26. Londiniensis says:

    Ignatius Insight had the following piece by Carl Olson yesterday Nicely chosen quotes from Pope Bendict, Cardinal George and the late Fr Neuhaus.

    What is it with the modern Jesuits? A theology prof at Marquette has disgraced himself today over the Tiller murder – but then Marquette espouses “Jesuit 2.0” with all the inconvenient bits of Jesuit version 1.0 removed: “Revolutionary. Countercultural. The ’60s? More like the 1500s. Meet the movement that wasn’t afraid to challenge assumptions, question authority — and change the world. See how Marquette interprets the discipline of a Jesuit education amid the chaos of modern life.”

    Yes, they’re good at questioning authority in Version 2.0. Version 1.0 had as its First Rule. “The first: All judgment laid aside, we ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother the Church Hierarchical.” (Not to mention the Ninth Rule “to praise all precepts of the Church, keeping the mind prompt to find reasons in their defence and in no manner against them” and the famous Thirteenth Rule “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.”)

    Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia?

  27. tzard says:

    There’s a good analysis of this at the Ignatius press blog and Carl Olsen brings out a little more of O’Mally’s philosophy, tying this into his books.


  28. TNCath says:

    I think Fr. O’Malley’s opinion that President Obama’s oratorical styles are similar to the “spirit” of the Second Vatican Council is an insult to the Council and its Fathers. Barack Obama has the uncanny ability to deliver an entire speech and say absolutely nothing. I didn’t find this at all in the documents of Vatican II. This 1960’s idealogue’s perspective is as valid as Ray Charles’ driver’s license.

  29. EDG says:

    Hmmm. Maybe Obama is the anti-Christ after all.

  30. LCB says:

    “Comment by Andreas — 3 June 2009 @ 9:18 pm”

    That, good sir (or ma’am), was an absolute home run of a comment.

    I am not a latinist at all, but I would be more than a bit surprised if “new vocabulary” were employed by the council in a significant fashion.

  31. Geoffrey says:

    “Barack Obama has the uncanny ability to deliver an entire speech and say absolutely nothing.”

    Oh that’s a good one. That should be printed on t-shirts or something!

  32. Peggy says:

    The short of Fr’s theory should be that “Obie is a Vatican II president because he believes in the rupture of continuity for America as much as we [Spirit of V2-ers] do for the Roman Catholic Church. Our kind of guy!”

  33. Anonymous about O'Malley says:

    Posting Readers,

    You are delusional to believe even for a second that President Barack Hussein Obama has anything to do with the Second Vatican Council, implicitly or explicitly. If Fr. O’Malley’s connection between the man and the council is “civility”, then his distinction as such is quite muddling and not helpful in the least.

    Fr. O’Malley has mistakenly applied “civitas” for the definition of civility, which would imply “community”, or better for this instance, living as community. The problem lies in the fact that civility would more accurately come from “civilitas” which is political- the socaial status and perogative of the citizen. The Second Vatican Council was not political in the least- pastoral, not political. For those who would use the Church’s teaching for a political means or end are no better than they would would live and teach “Liberation Theology” which is firmly condemned. Christ always has and always will have implications for man in his political environment, but never implications for politics- politics shift, God does not. The Church, like Christ, teaches, and teaches how to live those teachings. That is letter and spirit.

    The Catechism says it best: “The principal task entrusted to the Council by Pope John XXIII was to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will. For this reason the Council was not first of all to condemn the errors of the time, but above all to strive calmly to show the strength and beauty of the doctrine of the faith. “Illumined by the light of this Council”, the Pope said, “the Church . . . will become greater in spiritual riches and gaining the strength of new energies therefrom, she will look to the future without fear . . . Our duty is to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, thus pursuing the path which the Church has followed for 20 centuries.”

    My skin crawls to think that a single one of you would believe that Fr. O’Malley is correct in his assertion that President Obama embodies the council. Let us each agree- Pope Benedict XVI would soundly reject that notion top to bottom. To side otherwise only aids the hermaneutic of rupture. Fr. Z is correct- rhetoric without polemic is a clear disjoint from any of the Church Fathers. Period. They were not mere orators, but doctors of the Church and teachers of the true faith. Obama is none of that whatsoever.

    Liberals will choke under their own weight of the support they put behind Obama- it will not be long before all cards are shown and he abandons even his “own”. He has already begun the divorce- an intolerant tyrant who wishes to strip away the human right of the individual so as to usher in a new “human right of the whole” with his steady speech, swift pen, and sharp sentiment cannot be anything but a direct enemy to life and light, letter and spirit. Let Obama be the shepherd of the left- he is a hired hand who will not protect the sheep when the wolves of satan come calling- he will stand back and allow them to be scattered. The faithful flock will be ready to take them back when the time comes, and the true shepherd will guard them once again. Time will tell all.

  34. Mark says:

    “I wonder about this notion of a vocabulary shift. Are they relying on English translations to come to that conclusion? None of the documents of Vatican II where written in English. I challenge anyone to find the Latin equivalent of such things as “brothers and sisters” in any of the Vat. II document.”

    No, it is different. There is no Anathema Sit, for example, etc

  35. Veritas says:

    Is there a Spirit of Vatican I, or of Trent, or of Nicea? The best guide to any Council is what it actually said. Indeed it can be argued that Vatican I was untramontanist in character but its actual definition of infallibility was safeguarded from error by the Almighty. Newman argued that this was the case and that what emerged was in fact very moderate. It certainly disappointed Manning and Ward. We should ask what does the Council really say and not indulge in fanciful imaginings.

  36. Andrew, medievalist says:

    Of course Catholics have always used rhetoric and dialogue to draw men towards a common cause. This common cause is Christ our hope and salvation! The “spirit” of Vatican II (not a spirit I was taught belongs to the Divine Trinity) desires to turn our common cause away from Christ ad mundum hominemque. Don’t let them take away our Catholic heritage of eloquence, rhetoric, persuasion, and true dialogue!

  37. Steve in WPa, USA says:

    ‘but it did mean a willingness to learn from others and a refusal to condemn them without a hearing.’

    Is it, then, alright to condemn, in the sense of disagreement, after the hearing? And if after the hearing, the counterparty still cries ‘no dialogue’, do we still dialogue until we submit to their wishes?


  38. EDG says:

    Tzard posted a link to the Ignatius press blog, and I found a very good observation from Cdl George (in 1999!) “Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project. Essentially a critique, even a necessary critique at one point in our history, it is now parasitical on a substance that no longer exists.”

    That substance would be the “bad old Church,” that is, the image of authoritarianism, obscurantism, etc. This is what the Spirit of Vatican II set itself up against, and what it still summons up today, judging by Fr. O’Malley’s article. But one has to question the degree to which it existed in 1965 or, for that matter, ever. In many ways, liberals in the Church have always fought against a straw man; there have always been ignorant, fearful, repressive people in the Church and there always will be because that is human nature. In fact, the implementers of the supposed Vatican II dictates were among the most dictatorial and harshest people in the Church back in their moment of glory, the 60s and 70s. But the saints that came out of 1965 years of pre-Vatican II Catholicism certainly give the lie to the idea that there was anything fundamentally wrong with the Faith.

    However, like Obama criticizing the “old” pre-Obama US all the time, Vatican II Catholics constantly criticize this unreal image they have created of the “old” pre-Vatican II Church. The fact that the US was the symbol of political freedom and the good life (which is nothing to be ashamed of) for people all over the world for years before Obama was even a Kenyan toddler means nothing to Obama and his followers, just as the history of the Church means nothing to the O’Malleys of this world. We need to reclaim our history.

    Also, I want to thank Fr Z for all he does to help us achieve this.

  39. Aaron says:

    “My skin crawls to think that a single one of you would believe that Fr. O’Malley is correct in his assertion that President Obama embodies the council.” — Anonymous

    He didn’t say Obama embodies the Council; he said he embodies the “spirit of Vatican II.” That’s a very specific term that you won’t find that in the documents because it didn’t come from the Council. It’s a code word dissenters invented to refer to all the things they thought *should* have been in the documents. After Vatican II, whenever a dissenter wanted to contradict Church teaching, he just attributed his pet innovation to “the spirit of Vatican II.”

    Today, people think the Council made all kinds of radical changes because they’ve been pushed on us in “the spirit of Vatican II,” when the documents either didn’t mention them or specifically disagreed with them. It worked so well it continues to be used today by dissenters. Want to preach in favor of contraception or a pro-abortion candidate? No problem, you’re obeying “the spirit of Vatican II.”

    It’s come to have a meaning like obeying the spirit of the law instead of the letter. If Church law doesn’t permit something, just obey the “spirit” of the law instead, since that can mean whatever you like. Except, of course, that’s exactly how Catholicism is *not* supposed to work.

  40. Paladin says:

    Veritas wrote:

    Is there a Spirit of Vatican I, or of Trent, or of Nicea?

    THAT… is one of the best questions I’ve heard in a long time. My only crack at an answer (which is both tangential and incomplete) is “Yes… the HOLY Spirit!” But that wouldn’t suit the “SOV2” crowd’s definition of “SOV2 = whatever interpretation, insertion, deletion or replacement we choose to impose on the text.”

    The best guide to any Council is what it actually said.

    You hidebound literalist, you! ;)

  41. ssoldie says:

    Just what is the ‘true spirit of Vatican II and just what is the ‘false spirit of Vatican II? I have always looked at the ‘fruits’ of Vatican II, now with 54% of catholics voting for B.O.,would one call this true spirit, or false spirit or “fruits’? Is J.W. O’Malley S.J. a fruit of Vatican II?

  42. ssoldie says:

    P.S. Instead of reading J.W. O’Malley ‘What Happened At Vatican II’ There is a small book in all 44 pages by Fr. Anthony Cekada, “The Problems With The Prayers Of The Modern Mass”. Interesting, as word’s really do mean something.

  43. Paul Haley says:

    The “Spirit of Vatican II”, otherwise known as relativism, obfuscation, doublespeak, ambiguousness, and discontinuity, is now to be praised because Obama preaches it? Egads, it boggles the mind. I prefer “let your Yes mean Yes and your No mean No” and stand up for what you believe in. That is, if you believe in anything at all.

    What did Jesus say: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” Sounds pretty firm to me – kind of like letting your yes mean yes and no mean no. But, then, I’m giving away my predilection, aren’t I?

  44. Nathan says:

    After a few years working in the midst of Washington politics, my cynical summary of Fr. O’Malley and the “spirit of Vatican II” is:

    “We didn’t get all we wanted put into the Council documents, but we were able to get some of our words included. Therefore, our words are the only ones in the Vatican II documents that matter.”

    Rupture, indeed.

    In Christ,

  45. Matt M. says:

    There\’s a huge flaw here in Fr. O\’Malley\’s thesis, and in it\’s defenders above. It\’s just not true, even of \”style\”, that Obama resembles the Council. While Obama gives some speeches that are \”civil\” he gives many others in which he demonizes the opposition in sometimes insidious but often openly contempt fashion. That is not civility. To speak one way about pro-lifers in a Catholic college, but in an opposite way at a DNC rally, or even to the mainstream media, that is the height of contempt, not only for the opposition, but for everyone, treating us as the proles of Communist countries were.

  46. Peter-historian says:

    One of the Posters mentioned ‘dictatorship of relativism’. This is the root of the problem. You see, x years ago there was only one Truth, and it is that Truth that served as a benchmark and measure of how much other statements/facts/ideas were true. This Truth was contained in the Scriptures and clear, well defined. unambiguous Magisterium Ecclesiae. What we have now is – my truth, my neighbour’s truth,a Muslim’s truth, and we are forced to accept that ‘in their own way everyone is right’, ‘you cannot dismiss someone else’s beliefs’, ‘every religion is good’ etc.

    As for the linguistic shift O’Malley is talking about: I wonder if the Vaticanum II does not need a sort of healthy ‘deconstruction’ in the spirit of Tradition. What I mean by that is that some of Council’s text’s contain ambiguities which I think should be addressed and cleared once and for all by authoritative explanation from the Pope. I also wonder what Derrida or Foucault would make of such ‘shift in the language’…

    Also, see how O’Malley places responsibility with true Catholics, as if trying to blame the mess on us – the unreasonable, unnuanced and freaky lot:

    ‘Catholics who denounce the president for his stance on abortion are of course responsible for many of the mines in the field’.

    He also tells us that ‘common good’ is more important than the issue of ‘principles’. What good is more vital than salvation of the soul and saving human life? But no, perhaps climate change and social services should take precedence…

    Basically, this article is another voice reducing our lives to temporal affairs and having read this I do not actually think that O Malley believes in eternal life. Unless it’s the case: ‘You’ve been a nice chap, so get in’

    Ah, some Jesuits. Who despise their clerical habit and claim that ‘there are places where they won’t let you in with a cassock so sometimes it’s better not to scare people’. Who say that they are a ‘community but their aim is to live as if dispersed’

    Who turn into philosophers and end up being rational atheists.
    And one would think that a lengthy priestly/brotherly formation should help them turn out better.

    Pope Clement XIV, God rest his soul, is probably looking on from heaven in amusement.

  47. REMINDER: I do not permit “anonymous” commments.

  48. irishgirl says:

    Oy vey indeed….

    Please, St. Ignatius of Loyola, reach down from heaven with the sword of your knighthood days and slap this ‘son’ of yours silly!

    Very ironic, because just a couple of days ago I met 14 young Jesuit novices at the burial Mass for Cardinal Dulles at Aureisville, NY. Talking to some of them, I gave a ‘thumbs up’ and said, ‘the future is HERE!’

    I hope that these young men will persevere in their vocation, and bring the Society of Jesus back to some measure of sanity!

  49. irishgirl says:

    I meant ‘Auriesville’-I’m using the library computer instead of my own, and the keys type funny…

    Oh well…I should use the ‘Preview’ button to check my spelling!

  50. Veritas says:

    The version of Scripture with which I grew up said “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”. Obama is the present Caesar – “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”. Vatican II was a profoundly scriptural council which never lost sight of these maxims. Constantine has gone, Nero has gone, Bush has gone, and Obama will go, the Almighty remains.

  51. Ken says:

    Geoffrey wrote: Please, please, let us distinguish between the TRUE ‘Spirit of Vatican II and the FALSE ‘Spirit of Vatican II.'”

    Ah, this is where the defenders of Vatican II run into some trouble. The radical Jesuit actually goes so far left that he’s right.

    If one is going to defend documents that permit almost anything, then one should not be shocked — always shocked! — when a priest dressed as a clown rides a bike up the aisle of a Jesuit parish to kick off a novus ordo of options, Woodstock music and ad libbing.

    For several years I have witnessed a lot of folks here try to reconcile 40 plus years of nonsense with the traditional liturgy, disicpline and sacraments. It can’t be done. This is why the SSPX is holding firm. This is why a lot of good, smart traditionalists remind you that it’s not just about the Mass. Vatican II indeed set a tone through documents that needs to be reversed, not revised.

    I commend the Jesuit for writing this — it’s time for an old-fashioned us versus them line in the sand debate. Vatican II versus tradition, not a hybrid of both.

  52. Matt K says:

    The “Catholic identity” of the Jesuits, ladies and gentlemen.

  53. Tony says:

    St. Ignatius Loyola, protect us from your sons. Amen.

  54. chris says:

    The problem with talk about the “spirit of Vatican II” is that it skirts the issue of the precise teaching of Vatican II. And if what is claimed as the “spirit” of the Council is contrary to the specific teaching, then we have got the “spirit” wrong.

  55. Mark VA says:

    And from the spirit of Vatican Two deliver us, O Lord!

  56. David Kastel says:

    O’Malley is exactly correct about the spirit of Vatican 2 and the ND-Obama saga. You guys are having a lot of trouble in both defending Vatican 2 and attacking ND for Obama. You can do one or the other but not both, if you wish to remain intellectually consistent – since “The best guide to any Council is what it actually said.”

    Please read Dignitatis Humanae. It is all about encouraging dialogue with those who do not believe the truth. They should be allowed to speak to us about what they believe to be true and we are to speak with them…we have equal right to try to convince each other. This is the plain meaning of the document. Now, poor Archibisop Lefebvre was run out of the Church (allegedly) for insisting that falsehood cannot have equal right with truth and, therefore, DH is wrong. (at least partly for that.)

  57. David Kastel says:

    You can accept DH and then accept that we should dialogue with pro-choicers and others with whom we disagree (they explain their beliefs to us and we explain ours to them) or refuse to dialogue (ok, great, but stop defending DH and V2 at all cost.)

    The party line here is that ND is wrong regarding Obama and that V2 is good. But, DH is the basis for the “dialogue” which has occurred on Catholic campuses since V2. Please don’t keep your heads in the sand. Vatican 2 was a disaster for the Church.

  58. michigancatholic says:

    “Anonymous about O’Malley” is 100% correct. Cradle catholics interpret everything to be about them, when it’s simply not. The majority of people in the US go through their daily, weekly, monthly & yearly routines completely without reference to the Catholic Church. They don’t know and they don’t care. I can’t stress this fact enough. (I’m a convert and I certify that this is true. I was once one of these people.)

    This is important BECAUSE by drawing attention to ourselves in this way, we risk raising the “level of concern” among those looking for scapegoats. Be careful. The Catholic Church, including Vatican II, is not primarily about temporal politics, either theirs or anyone else’s. The romans found this out and they were the first of many….

  59. michigancatholic says:

    What we do have to do is work harder to keep our own houses clean. We need to handle many moral issues within the church. For instance, we have abortion statistics that are nearly identical to those of the general population. Until we grow some cojones about confronting that in our midst, we will go nowhere with it. Women who practice this evil (and the ones that coerce them into it) need to be called on the carpet and disciplined by their priests. And only that’s the beginning. We have many things to fix.

    We have to do a much better job of defining & practicing Catholic identity within the Church. Outside the church, well, we can’t do much about them without their consent, which they’re not giving. So carrying on (with some kind of force, even verbal) isn’t really useful or sensible at all.

    Remember that Christ preached to the multitudes for those who had ears to hear, but he didn’t march into the forum and knock them all down. He could have. He didn’t.

  60. gedsmk says:

    definite signs of borderline personality disorder, methinks.

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