Did Vatican II bring about a “new Pentecost”? Are we still waiting?

From Celebration via NCR.

My emphases and comments:

Clericalism and the Liturgy
Whatever became of the ‘new Pentecost’?
Apr. 05, 2010
By Paul Philibert  [OP]  [Fr. Paul Philibert is a Dominican friar living in Raleigh, N.C., where he is freelancing as a lecturer and writer after many years as a professor of theology. His translation of Yves Congar’s liturgical writings, At the Heart of Christian Worship, will be published this summer by The Liturgical Press.]

For the three years preceding the Second Vatican Council, and all during that council, Roman Catholics added to the prayers after Mass (does anyone remember those?) [of course… I do them all the time…] Pope John XXIII’ s “Prayer to the Holy Spirit” for the council’s success. Day after day the church prayed, “O Holy Spirit, renew thy wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost.”

Pope John dreamed that through the council the Holy Spirit’s gifts would flow abundantly upon the whole church for the benefit of the entire world, because the Spirit alone has the capacity to change hearts from within, not by external force but by interior persuasion.

Today, however, the church is divided over just how much of a Pentecost Vatican II actually turned out to be. [Sure is.] It is likewise divided over what kind of church we are. This article will explore some of the consequences of this ambiguity.

The church’s focus

Now, 45 years after Vatican II (1962-1965), this Easter season has reached its climax. We transition from celebrating the new life of Christ’s resurrection to celebrating the new life poured out upon the world by the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the church’s movement from mystagogy to vocation, from contemplation to mission. [You can tell that the writer is wholly committed to "spirit" of Vatican II.]

The first Pentecost ushered in the age of the church in which the Holy Spirit turned Christ’s disciples into missionaries. The Spirit is the church’s living memory, anointing believers in faith to allow them to live the events of their salvation in the present. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “The paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated, not repeated. The celebrations … are repeated, and in each celebration there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that makes the unique mystery present [to us].” (#1104). Consequently every one of the faithful becomes a dynamic source for the Spirit’ s contact with and action upon the world.

This is an essentially apostolic vision of the church. We find its origin in the Acts of the Apostles, where the gift of the Spirit immediately led people to bear witness: Acts 2:4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability”; and Acts 4:31, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.”

Reflecting on the unmistakable energy of the Spirit revealed in these passages, Pope Paul VI asked, “In our day, what has happened to that hidden energy of the good news, which is able to have a powerful effect on [our] conscience?” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 4). The answer, in part, is that our church’s leadership has shifted its focus from mission to maintenance, from evangelization to ritual sanctification. The active players are no longer (or not often) imagined to be the baptized, but the ordained.  [I was sorely tempted simply to cut some of that dross for the sake of keeping this entry shorter rather than make it burdensome.  In the end, I leave it in to show how clerics of certain generation still cling to the liberal narrative of Vatican II.  For the last year, there is a rising effort on the part of liberals to regain control of the narrative about Vatican II, and all its various promises, and all its pomps.  Therefore, when we find this tired old story book hauled out and dusted off, we will inevitably also hear and read some cliches from decades past.  Let’s see what we run into down the line….]

The return of clericalism

[And our first cliche is….] A type of clericalism has been revived over the last 20 or 25 years that is subduing the apostolic vision of the church sketched by Vatican II. It is overemphasizing the part played by the ordained in the life of the church. There are many symptoms, from cardinals unpacking their 15-foot trains of scarlet silk — cappa magnas (ceremonial capes) — to seminarians and young priests living full time in cassocks; [GASP!] from the disappearance of inclusive language in church texts and preaching, to the nearly exclusive focus upon clerical vocations in diocesan letters[Because that is where the energy is needed.] Seminarians are in short supply, and officials fear ["fear"] that the generalized secularization of the culture and particularly the promotion of laypersons to ministries of service in the church will have the effect of discouraging vocations to the ordained priesthood. [And they will.  And it is an old liberal canard to suggest that people who don’t advance their horizontal, role blurring agenda, are "fearful" of the … I dunno… promptings of the "spirit", etc.] The consequent demotion of the spiritual dignity of the faithful and a chilling of social relations between clergy and people are all too clear among some church leaders. These details are debatable; they vary from place to place. Far more significant is the underlying vision and practice of what goes on in the local church.  [Chilling? Based on what evidence?  Wherever I go, to various more traditionally inclined parishes, the rapport of clergy and parishioners is wonderful!]

I am trying to describe here an implicit popular theology of the church that appears to be widespread. [Go back and read that vague sentence again.] These ideas represent not only people’s general understanding of what the church is about, but also much in pulpit preaching and in church documents as well. Here is a brief description of the problem:

(a) In this popular theology, the priest represents Christ, while the people represent those to whom Christ ministered. During this “Year for Priests,” we have heard lots about how important the figure of the priest is. However, I have yet to hear anyone echo the clear teaching of St. Paul that each of the baptized is an alter Christus — another Christ — and has a vocation to share the church’s mission through an apostolic life in the ordinary world.  [Sigh… this is the Year of the Priest.  PRIEST.  Not the Year of the Baptized.  Right?  I hope there is no confusion in the writer’s mind about the qualitative way priests are priests and the way the baptized share in Christ’s priesthood.]

[Here is another liberal sign post… ] (b) In this popular theology, the ordained presbyter (priest) [when you see "presbyter", start reading closely] is understood to be the one who is active in the Eucharist as the agent of reenacting Holy Thursday and Good Friday, [another cliche coming] while the people are sacramentally passive as recipients of the priest’s sacred action[The writer has a rather narrow understanding of "active participation" it seems.] Some of those who [note how condescending his following description is…] buy into this vision of the Eucharist are hungry to hear Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and Latin texts while they are edified by the priest’s awesome rites. [Gosh… whose ideas might he be attacking here?] This reduction of the laity to passive bystanders instead of active participants in Catholic worship is the most characteristic manifestation of clericalism[On the other hand, what the writer fails to grasp is that when you "clericalize" the laity, when you instruct them to do what is proper to the priest and deacon, installed acolyte or lector, you are telling them that they – in themselves – aren’t good enough.  Their affirmation comes from them aping what clergy do.  I think that is a far worse clericalism, for it denies that lay people have their own real dignity unless they are doing what clergy are to do.  And his notions of active participation are simply worn out.]

(c) One additional aspect of this implicit popular theology has to do with the Holy Spirit. It imagines that if the Spirit is bestowed on the faithful, it will come exclusively through the ministry of the ordained. It presupposes that the faithful are directly dependent upon bishops and priests for their sanctification. This ignores the rich teaching of Romans and First Corinthians that baptism gives the faithful the power to live and act under the impulse of the Holy Spirit and to be powerful witnesses to God’s action in the world[Uh huh.  And we can all tell when the Holy Spirit is at work.]

The Vocation of the faithful

[If you had any doubt that we are walking through a theological and liturgical Jurassic Park…] Speaking through the council fathers, the Spirit at Vatican II left no doubt [?!?] that all three of these theological manifestations of clericalism are wrong. [Boy… he sure has those fear-filled Spirit-rejecting clericalizing baddies on the run now!] In the “Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests,” we read: “Jesus gave his whole mystical body a share in the anointing of the Spirit with which he was anointed. In that body all the faithful are made a holy and kingly priesthood, they offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ … therefore there is no such thing as a member who does not have a share in the mission of the whole body” (Presbyterorum Ordinis 2). Put another way, each of the faithful, positioned in some way at the church’s periphery, has the potential to initiate a more dynamic expression of the living church, calibrated precisely to the real existing possibilities for life that are always emerging there[Let’s decipher this: lay people have a role to play.]

To the idea that the priest celebrates the Eucharist and that the faithful are nourished from afar, the council insisted on the contrary: “The eucharistic celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides. Hence priests [must] teach the faithful to offer the divine victim to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass and with the victim to make an offering of their own lives” (Presbyterorum Ordinis 5). [The same Spirit filled Council Fathers, in a much weightier document, also mandated – surely under the influence of the same Spirit – that pastors of souls make sure that their flocks can sing and speak the parts of Mass pertaining to them in both the mother tongue and LATIN, that Gregorian Chant and polyphony (which the writer takes to be marks of the presence of clericalism) have pride of place.   Why does the writer think that only his favorite passages of the documents were inspired by the Spirit.  And… big question here… who says that the documents were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?] By offering themselves and their apostolic action in the world, the faithful bring the fruit of their baptismal priesthood (which is essentially non-liturgical and lived out in the world) to the church’s fundamental act of sacrifice and self-offering to God at Mass. When this role of the faithful is denied, then Sunday Mass becomes the place where people assemble not as a priestly people offering their lives to God, but as individuals praying private devotions as they watch the priest offer sacred rites on a distant altar.  [I think that their proper role is denied more sharply when they are presented with confused ideas about their role.  Should they be made to act like faux-clerics?  Should they be allowed to be lay people with their own dignity?]

To the idea that the faithful are sanctified uniquely through the ministries of the ordained, the “Constitution on the Church” clearly says: “The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all their Christian activities they may offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the marvels of him who has called them out of darkness into his wonderful light” (Lumen Gentium 10). In other words, the vocation that the church offers to the faithful is not a secondary role as clients of clerical ministries, but a [Here we go again…] Spirit-filled participation as pioneers in the church’s role as herald of the kingdom of God.  [Yah… right.  Okay.  I think that the proper role of lay people is to shape the world around us and that clerics should give them the spiritual support they need in that role.  Instead, liberals want the lay people to do the priestly liturgical and sacramental things and want the priests to be social workers.  The result is that, too often, few people – confused lay people and clerics alike – do anything all that well.]

Thoughts for reflection

The three examples of clericalism just given are never articulated in these terms. However, before offering this essay for publication, I checked out these ideas with a number of people to see if they ring true to their experience. All of them assured me that this is what they see in the new clericalism, expressed not in so many words, but in actions and attitudes. The fundamental problem with clerical condescension is that it appeals to and reinforces a passive clericalism on the part of the laity who are used to being put down and quite unused to being reminded of or commissioned for an apostolic role.

The laity is supposed to be the link between the church and the world. ["link between"… hmmm]  Pope Paul VI describes laypeople as those whose vocation places them in the midst of the world, in charge of the most varied temporal tasks. He goes on to say: “Their primary and immediate task is … to put to use every Christian and evangelical possibility latent but already present and active in the affairs of the world. Their own field of evangelizing activity is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, but also the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 70). A church that forgets this and fails to commission the laity to this irreplaceable dynamic role in the culture has let go of the great commission that Christ left to the church as his last mandate: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark16:15; Matt 28:19). It is a church that has forgotten that it is baptizing and confirming missionaries “to make the church present and fruitful in those places in circumstances where it is only through them that it can become the salt of the earth” (Lumen Gentium 33).  [Which means we don’t clericalize them and we don’t confuse our liturgical roles.  It also means that when they come to church for revitalizing worship, something that actually explains why they do what they do for their vocations, they should an an encounter with the transcendent.]

Finally, we should also note that there has never been a moment in which the irreplaceable role of the ordained minister has been more important. [Whenever I hear the term "ordained minister" I get red flags and sirens in my head.  In the ultra-liberal hole of a seminary I was in we were pretty much forbidden to use the word "priest" (the P-Word).  We had to refer to ordained ministers and non-ordained ministers.  After all, everyone’s a minister, right!?] We need a ministerial priesthood at the service of the common priesthood of the baptized (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1547), we need presbyters [priests… let’s keep the sacrificial dimension in this…] who can teach the faithful to offer their own lives along with the divine victim in the sacrifice of the Mass (Presbyterorum Ordinis 5), we need ministers of the Gospel who recognize that “the distinct character of [their] activities is the aim to proclaim the Gospel of God” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 68) in ways to draw people effectively to the heart of Christ. But this ordained ministry cannot be the condescension of a patriarchal master, [a penchant of liberals, who clericalize the laity] but only the loving service of an apostolic brother. The very nature of the church demands it. The parish is not about giving passive Christians spiritual comfort; it is rather the recruiting center for an apostolic priestly people. The Spirit is waiting. The people are waiting. What are you waiting for?

An instructive piece.

I admit I have been a little hard on this presentation.  But I think we need to keep our ears tuned for certain currents of old ways of thinking about the Council… ways that really didn’t work.


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  1. FrCharles says:

    One of my confreres is famous for this pithy diagnosis of our troubles: “All the laity want to be priests, and all of the priests want to be politicians.” Hence an inversion in which everyone ends up ignoring his proper vocation. It was a tremendous liberation for me when I actually read Vatican II and thought to myself that the council fathers didn’t quite say what everyone was telling me they did all along.

  2. asophist says:

    Fr. Z, I don’t think you were too hard on that piece and that your comments were spot on. Don’t get numbed by all the cuckoo blather that seems to come from almost everywhere. Does anybody ever get a rebuttal of these pieces published in NCR? It may be worth a try.

  3. Athanasius says:

    Even if life after Vatican II was rosy and perfect, to compare a mostly non-infallible pastoral council to the founding event in the Church is Blasphemous at best. Frankly even to compare great councils to it is ridiculous. There is no new pentecost, the life of the Church flows from the one founding event of the Holy Ghost after Our Lord’s ascension. To say there is a new one suggests that stopped at some point, and is in fact more in accord with protestant ecclesiology than Catholic.

  4. RichR says:

    It also hurts vocations when a young man sees all these clerical roles being co-opted by laypeople and they say to themselves, “Why should I give up a high-paying job, a wife, a family, and become a priest when I can just be a lay minister and do everything except consecrate and absolve?”

    Many “traditions” and “customs” that enshrined doctrinal beliefs were torn down after the Council by zealots of this mentality. Is it any surprise that, after tearing these down, we start to tear down the dogmas themselves?

  5. Genna says:

    In his 60s is he? My, there seem to be a lot of elderly churchmen who are emotionally stuck in their 20s. Is this a male thing, or is it just some who are unable to move forward? The Pope has matured in his ministry. Perhaps that’s why he’s Pope.

  6. WBBritton says:

    St. Dominic created the Order to stamp out heresy. Why would one of his friars want to spout this nonsense?

  7. Elly says:

    I never knew how much peace and comfort I could find while praying private devotions and watcing the priest offer sacred rites on a distant altar until I went to a Traditional Mass. I’m just a child, totally dependent on Father- I’ll let him take care of securing the food and feeding me.

  8. THREEHEARTS says:

    Father Z so often asks not tho flame. This is very hard to do if one is so deep into the Church and see so many uninformed people who write an to ask for help and some of the answers one reads. Have any of these critics, or spin theologians whose opinions are treated like they were private revelations of some kind or the other, read Karol Wojtyla”s book “Sources of Renewal”??? I did not think so. I was late teens and early twenty’s at the time of the council. I knew very well what clericalism was and it was a two edged sword. Some lay people always knew the priest’s mind and ruled the roost (parish) by their familiarity. Other priests said obey and do not discuss. There is a lesser form added since Vatican 2. We have women who literally adore the parish priest and will not accept how he can be wrong or in error and they can make many live’s miserable.
    The renewal today seems to be a new church which a new kind of Holy Spirit came and formed in 1965. The documents of Vatican 2 favor ecumenism and what were the “harsh words of Christ” some new terminology are hidden. Even the new catechism is written with ecumenism in mind and can be confusing especially in its answers on grace.
    Here is the question I ask continually if the Holy Spirit is, now and always with the Church why does He have to be told renew Yourself? To what state, what level, what period in time of ecclesiastical revelations over the lifetime of the Hebrews and the Catholic Church must He renew. Is it not apropos to say if there really is a need for renewal why not use the greatest and most profitable Sacrament for renewal in the confession. Do I or you after all these years in the church 70 odd for me need to change in ways that incomprehensible to what I was taught before vatican 2. Were my teachers so wrong they have led me to hell in the next life? I cannot think so. Were their efforts at teaching me so off base when it comes to saving my soul and loving others by teaching them what I was taught? You will never convince me of their ignorance of the Church before Vatican 2
    Besides the Pope going to bed when the going got tough. I always found that too cavalier and disgusting each time I read it. He also left the council, by his own admittance to its own ends. I always felt after reading that fact. it is so obvious he deserted the Church and the results are obvious. I also found no humor in the sleeping while Rome burned. His infallible guidance, that comes with His anointing as the Elder Brother of the Apostles went with him and as so often was said during that time, “The baby got thrown out with the bath water”

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    Did Vatican II bring about a “new Pentecost”?

    You’re serious, right? Yeah, sure.

    But actually, the answer is … Yes! Well, maybe not a new Pentecost, but “the new springtime” of which John Paul II famously spoke. It’s now underway with Benedict XVI. The signs are all around us — vocations increasing, orthodox and faithful young priests and religious, droves of orthodox and faithful laymen many with big families, a return to beauty in worship and churches, eucharistic adoration all over, the pendulum swinging back in most of the right ways — not least, the renewal of the liturgy — accelerating as the unfortunate generations gray and go on to their eternal reward and are not replaced, while we see the handwriting on the wall, written on the faces of the best and brightest young folks we see at Mass done right (whether OF or EF).

    Of course, folks can still debate what connection all this has to do with Vatican II, whose results were in any case forestalled, roadblocked, hijacked by that other “spirit” in the chaos that overwhelmed both religious and secular society in the decades after Vatican II.

  10. Prof. Basto says:

    “The first Pentecost ushered in the age…”

    Was there a second one???? I’m not aware of another.

    Was the “first Pentecost” that happened in the presence of Mary and the Apostles a “provisional one”? Did it have an expiration date? “Not valid past 1962”?

    Pentecost, the event described in the Acts of the Apostles as the culmination of the founding of the Catholic Church, is an unique event in History, and its effects are to last from that point in History until the end of time.

    There is no second Pentecost, no replacement, no additional Pentecost. The Church that was founded with what the writer calls “the first Pentecost” (actually the only Pentecost) remains one and the same Church.

    That is why there can be no rupture, only continuity.

  11. spock says:

    Father Chad Ripperger FSSP on his website refers the calling of Vatican II as the new Pentecost as blasphemy. The link below points to it: ( I should point out that his talks aren’t exactly free and one should read the top of the page to understand that )


    It would be the last on set 1. He refers to the crisis in the Church and “infighting” within the council among other reasons as to why one shouldn’t equate Vatican II with Pentecost.

  12. William says:

    Father Z. states: “I admit I have been a little hard on this presentation.” Nothing of the kind, dear Father; one can only hope that its author will read your comments and take them to heart.

    I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll never again sit through such “dynamic” presentations. This guy is the enemy. He takes drivel to a new, dizzying height.

  13. Maltese says:

    Some of those who [note how condescending his following description is…] buy into this vision of the Eucharist are hungry to hear Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and Latin texts while they are edified by the priest’s awesome rites. [Gosh… whose ideas might he be attacking here?] This reduction of the laity to passive bystanders instead of active participants in Catholic worship is the most characteristic manifestation of clericalism.

    So priests don’t get their due? These are men who sacrifice EVERYTHING to bring the Sacraments to the usually faithless faithful, under extreme stress, hard hours, little pay; yet ONE HOUR a week we can’t appreciate what they are doing with their CONSECRATED hands, in persona Christi, on the altar of Sacrifice? So, they are just ‘good ol boys’ and we can happy-clap with them during the usually silly novus ordo mass!

    The answer, in part, is that our church’s leadership has shifted its focus from mission to maintenance, from evangelization to ritual sanctification. The active players are no longer (or not often) imagined to be the baptized, but the ordained.

    Actually, the exact opposite has been true since about 1955: the Church has forgotten it’s mission of evangelization, delved into undo ecumenism, and forgotten the mass as the Unbloody Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the faithful see the mass as a cedar meal, and the host as a glob of ordinary bread. A Happy Meal!

    Fr. Paul Philibert is a Dominican friar living in Raleigh, N.C

    For all his talk about “active participation” if Fr. Philibert would travel about two hours to a place near Charlotte, in Mt. Holly, called St. Philip Neri, there he would see “active participation” beyond his wild imagination. Although SSPX (meaning, it is truly Roman Catholic) the faithful there engage in the mass like I’ve seen nowhere else: fully active, fully participating!

    There are those who see an Age of Aquarius after Vatican II, and those who see a terrible loss, I fall into the latter category:


    Not that there aren’t wonderful, beautiful passages in the documents of VII, but the subtly-imbued ambiguities, and false statements (such as, “Hindus are on a loving, trusting flight towards God,”) give little doubt that the Holy Spirit was staid very clear of this council, as He has for others. Remember, it was our current Pope who said, “in the final analysis, not every council has been beneficial [for the Church.]” Now, would the Holy Spirit do something that is NOT beneficial for the Church? Lateran IV said Jews had to wear “distinctive dress,” as absurd as that is. Clearly, councils can err, and Vatican II erred big time; primarily because liberals have used its ambiguous document to unleash a full-front assault on the Mystical Body of Christ.

  14. Kate says:

    All my life (born 1968), I have heard certain religious, teachers, deacons, etc. speak in the fashion of this article by Fr. Philibert.

    When I was young, I had no access to anything “old fahioned” – TLM, Vespers, etc., and I heard of these things (i.e. ad orientum) spoken of in a scoffing way.

    I always thought, even as a child, “Gee, all that stuff sounds so cool. Too bad they got rid of it all before I was born. Instead of the good stuff, I’m stuck with all these felt banners and guitars.”

    I would also sometimes think, “No one ever asked my opinion.”

    I am soooo thankful for good, holy priests who take their vocation seriously and work to help me grow in reverence and faith. The sight of a priest in a cassock warms my heart.

    Keep up the great work, Fr. Z!

  15. Andy Milam says:

    Soooooo, in reading this, I think back to the days around the table with the Monsignor. I was laughing out loud at the computer screen, much like we used to laugh out loud around the table with these types of conversations on Saturday mornings…

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane AND the good laugh, I needed that!!!!

  16. Bruce says:

    “I think that is a far worse clericalism, for it denies that lay people have their own real dignity unless they are doing what clergy are to do”

    AMEN Father! As a lay person I find what Fr. Paul Philibert says insulting & patronizing.

    “The Solempne is the festal which is also the stately and the ceremonial, the proper occasion for pomp–and the very fact that pompous is now used only in a bad sense measures the degree to which we have lost the old idea of solemnity. To recover it you must think of a court ball, or a coronation, or a victory march, as these things appear to people who enjoy them; in an age when every one puts on his oldest clothes to be happy in, you must re-awake the simpler state of mind in which people put on gold and scarlet to be happy in. Above all, you must be rid of the hideous idea, fruit of a wide-spread inferiority complex, that pomp, on the proper occasions, has any connexion with vanity or self-conceit. A celebrant approaching the altar, a princess led out by a king to dance a minuet, a major-domo preceding the boar’s head at a Christmas feast — all these wear unusual clothes and move with calculated dignity. This does not mean they are vain, but that they are obedient; they are obeying the hoc age which presides over every solemnity. The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for everyone else the proper pleasure of ritual.”

    C. S. Lewis – A Preface to Paradise Lost

  17. muckemdanno says:

    I didn’t think this article was too bad. He certainly used the word ‘sacrifice’ in relation to the mass, which is (unfortunately) rare these days…thanks to the ‘renewal’. And he is correct to say that the faithful should offer themselves and their own sacrifices along with the sacrifice of the altar in the mass.

  18. TJerome says:

    Yes, Vatican II was a huge success. Pre-Council 80% of American Catholics attended Sunday Mass (you know that horrible, unintelligible Latin one). Now with the new and improved vernacular Liturgy about 23% of American Catholics attend Sunday Mass. With successes like that, we certainly don’t need any failures.

  19. Nathan says:

    Very good fisk, Father Z. Father Philibert is, it seems, re-stating what he has been taught about the Council–thought that until recently was, unfortunately, all too mainstream.

    It does highlight, however, what the late Michael Davies (RIP) so ably pointed out many years ago–the documents themselves contain enough ambiguous phrases and concepts as to be “time bombs” unless interpreted in the light of Tradition and continuity with what the Church has always taught. Fr. Philibert cites the Councilar documents–but does so to “cherry pick” what supports his interpretation of the Council.

    Even the most widely accepted of the Council’s documents–Lumen Gentium was signed by Archbishop Lefevbre–contains concepts that have been used by the progressives to radically restructure the Church. For example, “People of God” is a fine idea, but Lumen Gentium’s lack of conceptual clarity, especially with not explaining who were NOT the People of God, led to some of the unfortunate hyper-ecumenism we have seen. Collegiality, because its limits were not clearly defined, has been an excuse for marginalizing the authority of the Holy Father. The use of canons in Trent’s documents–explicitly stating what propositions were outside the doctrinal statement, therefore condemned–were exceptionally useful in making Trent’s documents really clear.

    As for whether or not the Council’s documents were inspired by the Holy Spirit or not, I certainly lack competence in the matter. However, hasn’t the Church defined inspiration as the quality of being free from doctrinal error, not the guarantee of clarity or prudential wisdom?

    In Christ,

  20. Mike says:

    “Hindus are on a loving, trusting flight towards God,”


  21. ipadre says:

    If we actually followed the documents of Vatican II, there may have been a new Pentecost. However, it’s been about the “spirit” of Vatican II. That spirit, so often invocked may be “evil”, because it is not the mind of the Church and is made up by people who wish to do their own thing. The new Pentecost is yet to come. If those who promoted their own agendas for the past 40 years, helped to promote the mind of the Fathers of Vatican II, we might have had true renewal and avoided much of the infighting, division and other “beautiful” things these past 40 years. “Veni Sancti Spiritus!” Come, renew the Church, make us one in mind and heart, with Your holy will!

  22. ““Jesus gave his whole mystical body a share in the anointing of the Spirit with which he was anointed. In that body all the faithful are made a holy and kingly priesthood, they offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ … therefore there is no such thing as a member who does not have a share in the mission of the whole body” (Presbyterorum Ordinis 2). Put another way, each of the faithful, positioned in some way at the church’s periphery, has the potential to initiate a more dynamic expression of the living church, calibrated precisely to the real existing possibilities for life that are always emerging there.”

    I am quite relieved that Fr. Philibert was not one of the writers of Presbyterorum Ordinis! His “paraphrase” seems mechanical, cold, buzzword-y, and obfuscated.

  23. Okay, I stopped really reading at the “mystagogy to vocation” line…no, Fr. Paul…Easter BEGINS the mystagogy…the new Catholics LEARN how to live as Catholics now; get it straight! Pentecost is seven weeks away (am I being too rigid here?)
    The rest is just “ya da ya da ya…” (Yawn).
    Can’t these people even get THIS right?
    And as a post script: read “Lumen gentium” about the “universal call to holiness”…it’s not about being the same, it/s about being equal in dignity, but with different vocations. Like, you know, the hierarchy (Sacrament of Holy Orders), the consecrated life, the lay life? Is this so difficult?

  24. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I don’t understand the problem with presbyter. As in “[Here is another liberal sign post… ] (b) In this popular theology, the ordained presbyter (priest) [when you see “presbyter”, start reading closely]”

    Why, Father Z? What other uses has “presbyter” been put to?

  25. Maltese says:

    Mike: SOURCE??

    do a five-second search on the web; you’re a big boy.

  26. JMody says:

    I suspect that he and Cardinals Bacci and Ottavianni will share a table in Purgatory — presuming concurrent attendance, of course …

  27. Maltese says:

    JMody: Ottavianni will soon be among the blessed (or, might have landed there the day he died), but I fear Paul VI might have many centuries of penance, if he gets there at all. But, of course, God is the ultimate Judge.

  28. catholicmidwest says:

    I am so sick of hearing about this. Pentecost was an event in scripture. Pentecost is not going to happen again. If people want an emotional rush, they should drink more coffee or something. Grrr.

  29. TJerome says:

    Massachusetts Catholic, “presbyter” is another 60s code word, like assembly, presider, the presidential chair, cup, table, blah, blah, blah.
    Words like congregation, celebrant, chalice, altar, convey more who we are as Catholics (sorry, Christians).

  30. catholicmidwest says:

    Henry Edwards, I don’t know where you are, but I’ll have some of what you’re drinking.

  31. Aaron says:

    Father, you weren’t too hard on this at all. It’s always striking how casually people will write off centuries of liturgy — the liturgy that formed countless saints and martyrs — with terms like clericalism and lack of participation.

    And I’m pretty sure Pentecost was followed by a marked increase in faith and vocations — things that took a nosedive after the “springtime.”

  32. Grabski says:

    Off point, but the discussion of a Dominican reminds me of an old joke. What are teh similarities between the friars and the Jesuits? They each were founded to fight heresy; the Domincans to counter Albigensianism and the Society to counter Protestantism. What is the difference between them? See Albegensianism anywhere?

  33. Newminster says:

    Maltese —
    points out that the phrase “Hindus are on a ‘loving, trusting flight towards God.” does NOT appear in VII documents. I suggest you follow that link and/or:
    which is the link to Nostra Aetate which is where the (mis)quote is usually attributed.

  34. bernadette says:

    In the “Desolate City” by Anne Muggeridge there is much discussion about the Catholic Biblical scholars and theologians who did not believe in the Resurrection, that Jesus was the Son of God, the miracles, eternal life,etc. These so called scholars had a great deal of influence in how VII was carried out. With no Resurrection, no eternal life, no Son of God how in the world do you have a second Pentecost?

  35. atraturris says:

    Is it me or does Philbert reek of an Joachimite. Age of the Church (i.e. Holy Spirit?). A heresy that was condemned in Lateran 4.

  36. rakesvines says:

    Re: “an implicit popular theology of the church ” could that be the theology of the domestic Church whose
    seeds and roots are from the Patristic writings? That theology holds that the family is actually
    an atomic Church led by the household head. It does not clericalize the parent because his mission is
    confined to the family. Promoting this does not negate or diminish the vocation of the ministerial priest.

  37. Henry Edwards says:

    catholicmidwest: Henry Edwards, I don’t know where you are, but I’ll have some of what you’re drinking.

    For where I am: http://www.knoxlatinmass.net

    Perhaps my view is tinted by the fact that, in our immediate area with a small Catholic population, we have 4 dynamic and orthodox young priests — ordained since 2000 — who can celebrate the TLM with devotion and reverence (and the OF similarly). I attend a glorious high TLM each Sunday in a beautiful church with high altar and communion rail intact, and each day this week am attending an OF Mass celebrated as appropriate on a solemnity — mostly sung (including the Gospel), some Greek (Kyrie) and Latin (Sanctus and Agnus Dei), Roman Canon only — with precision and reverence that leaves nothing to be desired.

    Of course, I realize that the pace of renewal varies from place to place (sometimes even within a few miles).

  38. Jayna says:

    “…the generalized secularization of the culture and particularly the promotion of laypersons to ministries of service in the church will have the effect of discouraging vocations to the ordained priesthood.”

    I’m not entirely sure if he’s noticed, but it has. The notion seems to be that you can fulfill all of the “pastoral” functions of a priest and not have those pesky vows to hold to. This seems to have also led to a massive influx of men joining the permanent diaconate, we have eight of them in my parish alone. And anyway, the argument is not against laymen serving the Church, it’s that many of them have overstepped their bounds in the proper role of the laity.

  39. TJerome says:

    By the way, NCR (The Pravda of the Religious World) is not printing comments in opposition to this article (at least it didn’t print mine). I guess they think if they block them out they can’t be real.

  40. ssoldie says:

    Some new Pentecost, I don’t believe you were to hard on this presentation…In March of 1965, in the periodical L’Osservatore Romano, Bugnini was quoted as saying: “We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Protestants.” In 1974 preceding his second downfall, Bugnini proudly proclaimed Vatican II to be a “major conquest of the Catholic Church”.

    Colossians 2:8

    Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit: according to the tradition of men according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ.

    The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its problems and Background.
    ( by Msgr. Klaus Gamber)–Excerpts

    from the preface to the French edition: “J.A.Jungmann, one of the truly great liturgist of our century, defined the liturgy of his time, such as it could be understood in the light of historical research, as a ‘liturgy’ which is the fruit of development”….
    “What happened at the Council was something else entirely: in place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over the centuries,and replaced it–as in a manufacturing process– with a fabrication, a banal on- the- spot product.”

  41. Bornacatholic says:

    This ignores the rich teaching of Romans and First Corinthians that baptism gives the faithful the power to live and act under the impulse of the Holy Spirit and to be powerful witnesses to God’s action in the world.

    OK, then when we laymen, directed by The Holy Spirit, contacted our Bishops to request first The Indult and then The EF, we were told we could not have them.

    Does that mean The Holy Spirit was prompting us to seek an action the Holy Spirit, guiding the Church, would refuse?

    What sort of Holy Spirit does these sorts of things?

    The Holy Spirit prompted some of us to request an action that Holy Mother Church – guided by the Holy Spirit – had determined would be a source of spiritual sustenance for us yet most Bishops refused our requests.

    Is this what you mean by the New Pentecost; a time when the Holy Spirit prompts disunity?

  42. “The New Pentecost”, from my understanding, was to be the implementation of the “universal call to holiness” in “Lumen gentium”‘; this interpretation of Fr. Paul’s is flawed in many respects.
    Because of this misinterpretation, fueled by the “spirit of VII”, many have discounted or rejected it; I don’t. It has not been properly interpreted and understood. And yes, bishops, priests, consecrated and laity are in opposition to the authentic meaning of this; we are int he midst of a real battle.
    Yes, we are in dark times…just like the disciples before Pentecost; yes, there is a lot to deal with, liturgically, theologically, catechetically, organizationally…it’s a mess, I don’t deny that.
    But to completely reject the Holy Spirit’s movement, even if we cannot see it at this moment in history (although Pope Benedict is making it clear and would be last one to reject this) is to place ourselves in a kind of rejection of God’s work; I just caution against a complete rejection of this idea of “a new Pentecost”. It is not what the dissenters and apologists for the “spirit of VII” are saying…it’s a call to conversion, to holiness, to witness, to becoming saints. In the midst of a “depraved generation”.

  43. asperges says:

    “New Pentecost?” A noble aspiration, but difficult to see its real fruits. It has taken 40 years to distinguish the truth from the Emperor’s new clothes. Vatican II was the greatest upset to the Church since the Reformation. As the Counter-Reformation undid some of the ills of the latter and brought many graces and saints, so now we are clearing away the dross of the 60s and 70s. But it is a hard job.

    The thinking of the author is so desperately old-fashioned: simple and silly ideas, deliberate misinterprestations. Putting the Mass back with the people, not a remote action away from them clearly means involvement of heart and mind (as Pius XII had urged) for a greater appreciation of the Sacrifice and its power, not childish, personal involvement in case they missed something. We’re back to the “priesthood of the people” heresy which I can remember being pushed down our throats in the early days of the 60s/70s. Then they wonder why there are no vocations! The more the laity get near to their priests, the more they should wonder at their (sacramental) gifts and God-given powers and understand them better.

    The sacraments are not confected by the laity and the clergy need our prayers and wholehearted assistance in their ministry. No priests, no Mass. Even Luther knew this.

    Really these intellectuals need to get a grip…

  44. asperges says:

    ssoldie: “What happened at the Council was something else entirely: in place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over the centuries,and replaced it—as in a manufacturing process—with a fabrication, a banal on- the- spot product.”

    On a lighter note: A zebra, it is said, is really a horse designed by a committee.

  45. albizzi says:

    Vatican II was flawed even before opening.
    Since it was called to treat about the main challenges that the Church was actually facin, how was it possible that Pope John strictly forbade anyone to even utter the word
    “communism” during the council?
    If the Communism wasn’t a challenge to the Church in that time, the other
    issues were nothing but subtle jokes.

  46. Bressani56 says:

    Paul Philibert should not have written this article.

    It is totally false.

    Paul Philibert is either supremely misinformed, or an anti-Catholic.

  47. nossawja says:

    Fr. Z, when you comment on an article, I hope you send a copy (with your comments) back to the author. It would be very good of them to read your commentary. :-)

  48. Dr. Eric says:


    Deacons are not glorified laymen, nor are they Junior Priests, they are clergy with their own distinctive charism. It is lamentable that some in the Diaconate have made it appear otherwise. The Archdeacon used to run the diocese for the Bishop.

  49. Dr. Eric says:

    Historically, the Archdeacon used to run the diocese for the Bishop, I should have wrote.

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