L’Osservatore Romano: criticizing the questioners

If you haven’t yet seen this, you will want to hop over and have a look at Sandro Magister‘s always useful place.

In this case, Magister presents the back-to-back responses in the Vatican’s semi-official daily L’Osservatore Romano to two theologians in the more traditional camp who have called for a reexamination of the Second Vatican Council.   Inos Biffi and (Archbp.) Agostino Marchetto responded to the books of Msgr. Brunero Gherardini and Prof. Roberto de Mattei.

These books have been out for a while but only now is L’Osservatore Romano getting around to talking about them.

You might be saying, “But Father! But Father!  What do you think of the timing of these articles in L’Osservatore?”

I think that the beatification of Pope John Paul II is right around the corner and that the media spotlight is turning to Rome, and questions being raised about the beatification and about the present state of the Church.

In any event, check out Magister’s site.

The Disappointed Have Spoken. The Vatican responds

Inos Biffi and Agostino Marchetto reply in “L’Osservatore Romano” to the traditionalists Brunero Gherardini and Roberto de Mattei, who criticize the current pope for not having corrected the “errors” of Vatican Council II

by Sandro Magister

ROME, April 18, 2011 – Two of the “greats disappointed by Pope Benedict” on whom www.chiesa reported in a recent article have been the special focus of “L’Osservatore Romano,” with two consecutive and authoritative reviews of their latest books.

The “disappointed greats” are those traditionalist thinkers who had initially placed hopes in the pontificate of Joseph Ratzinger and in his restorative action, but then saw their expectations betrayed. And now they are making their discontent public.

Their disappointment comes above all from the way in which the current pope interprets and applies Vatican Council II.

Because it is there, in this Council, that is found the root of the evils present in the Church, in the view of these thinkers.

In particular, this is what has been written and argued in the latest books by Professor Roberto de Mattei and Canon Brunero Gherardini, the one from the historical point of view and the other from the theological point of view.

The aforementioned article from www.chiesa provides a concise summary of their theses:


Read the rest there.

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  1. mrthomaskeep says:

    I believe that such a re-evaluation is well called for, the documents are ambiguous, and as Paul VI said, contain not the mark of infallibility. This means the are pastoral. We need to know if they are a rupture and contain mistakes. There are many things which seem to not be in continuity with the ancient Magisterium, and that of course cannot be wrong (the ancient Magisterium that is).

  2. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    What the two bishops fail to realize is that Benedict was at Vatican II and had a bigger part as a theologian there than other bishops/cardinals. So if he really turned his back on the council wouldn’t he be “pulling a Lefebre” so to speak as he likely approved what was there? He hasn’t come out and said “I hated or never approved document X”. Also, c’mon give our Holy Father credit, he’s a smart man as evidenced in the Light of the World and Jesus of Nazareth in his evaluation sof theology and/or politics. He likely won’t pull a major change as he knows that would be a dangerous poilitical move that may cause schism further than what it is today.

    Finally, It’d be better if someone who didn’t go to Vatican II who got elected to be Pope did the overhaul because then they wouldn’t be criticized for being “biased” or “turning on their fellow Vatican II brotheren” or some other stupid charge liberal critics like to throw at our Holy Father.

  3. pjthom81 says:

    I think the difference is about speed not direction, and I think that the Holy Father, aware of Burke’s warnings of not moving too fast, is moving in such a way that it will make a backlash less likely.

    The liturgy is obviously now the focal point. A reevaluation of the documents of Vatican II is probably inevitable sooner or later simply because of the ambiguities in the documents. It does appear to me to be ironic that these Bishops are criticizing Benedict XVI right before the new tranlation takes effect: ie before the primary expression of the Faith in the English speaking world goes back to say, 1968 in its expression. I think some waiting out is called for when guiding through the transition. After the new tranlation becomes a new status quo, it will then be time for the next step.

  4. RichR says:

    I just finished re-reading The Ratzinger Report for the 3rd time. It is no surprise how many of his comments back then are exactly the same as what he has said as Pope. I think it would be a good idea for critics who feel their expectations have not been met should reassess what the HF actually believes WRT V2. I think there are some traditionalists who are deluding themselves as to how traditional BXVI really is.

    I think we also need to reaffirm that V2, the New Mass, et al are gifts from the Church to us, and we should stop playing liturgist police. That’s not really our job.

    This comes from a liturgy junkie of 15 years.

  5. Some observations…

    “a ‘revolutionary’ Vatican II, viewed as representing a break with Tradition, either through a disruptive aggiornamento promoted by a John XXIII conciliar from his mother’s womb, or through a resurgence of “modernism” due to the carelessness of the popes who succeeded Pius X.”


    “The hypothesis that they proposed a body of doctrine that clashes with Tradition would inevitably result in the affirmation that in the Church the Magisterium has been breached and the certainty of the faith has been lost.”

    Gherardini didn’t make that equation, thus its a random equivocation by Inos Biffi. Gherardini’s argument is more nuanced than that, and I think Biffi is being ingeniousness in presenting it as such. Gherardini does not suggest that the Church’s Magisterium has been breached in manner different than how it has been breached at any time in the past, i.e. an irreparable breach. (Does Inos Biffi remember the history of Pope Honorius I, or the Arian heresy?) Nor does Gherardini suggest that the certainty of the faith has been lost.

    His argument is simple, and it is something that Inos Biffi essentially agrees with: the documents of VCII are imprecise, unclear, and ambiguous, thus as conciliar statements they are utterly unique. Gherardini’s conclusion isn’t that they are erroneous, but that because they are uniquely imprecise and unclear, they were conceived imprudently and even foolishly. He places blame on the Council Fathers, but more on the perati and those working behind the scenes. He also blames the intellegensia of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement.

    These conservatives defending the H of C are unwilling to say that the documents are imprudent. Fine. That is open to debate. But please don’t twist the traditionalist position into something it is not.

    Another observation…

    “Moreover, according to Gherardini, anthropocentrism, naturalism, horizontalism had been the ‘dominant notes’ of the “careless liturgical movement,’ represented for example by Beaudin, Parsch, and Casel, objectively responsible, beyond their rectitude of intention, ‘of at least in part diverting the course of the liturgical movement, centering it on man.’

    A statement of this kind does not seem to me at all defensible in regard either to Casel, for whom, in harmony with the conception of the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy represents in sacramental form the work of salvation, or to Beaudin, engaged in making the Christian community actively prayerful, or of Parsch, with the merit of having initiated the people as much as possible into an understanding of the liturgy. Unless one maintains that pastoral work fostering the more and more active participation of the faithful in the liturgical action is a sign of anthropocentrism and horizontalism. ”

    Of course its defensible! Its true! How can one say that Beaudin, Parsch and Casel did not overemphasis the anthropocentric in liturgy? Yes, they did explicate the liturgy, especially Parsch who wrote with fecundity concerning the history and symbolism of Catholic liturgy. But Guéranger did that, and Guéranger did it better! At the same time he was writing this, he was also illegitimately promoting versus populum, was heavily involved in Catholic youth movements that were actively engaged in “circular” liturgy (not to mention rife with modernism and socialism), and he was promoting an active participation that was unique, I would say, foreign, to Catholic liturgy and quite different to the participation that St. Pius X or Dom Guéranger had in mind. Both Beaudin and Casel went even further in promoting a participation that was at base nothing more than a sterile, rote imitation of the ministers at the altar, thus promoting an external, and de-emphasizing the internal participation of meditation and contemplation. Inos Biffi is just plain wrong on this one.

    Regarding liturgy, Biffi goes on:

    “But neither the pope nor the competent organisms of the Apostolic See seem to me to have behaved like children, by admitting, in the implementation of the Council, ‘any sort’ of innovation, even if the more deplorable children were – and are – the authors of the ‘flagrant aberrations,’ as Cardinal Biffi called them.

    It might be pertinent to note that in ‘Mediator Dei’ (1947), Pius XII states: ‘The sacred liturgy consists of human elements and divine elements: these, having been instituted by the Divine Redeemer, clearly cannot be changed by men; those, instead, can undergo various modifications, approved by the sacred hierarchy with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, according to the needs of the times, of things, and of souls.'”

    Here is where I simply can’t take him seriously anymore. Pope Pius XII wouldn’t have termed the creation of the novus ordo, an almost complete writing of the liturgy based on the Tiaze liturgy (a Protestant community!) as the working of the “human element” in the liturgy. Sorry, it was the domination of the human in the whole-sale rewriting of the Mass. Comparing the TLM to the novus ordo and then comparing the novus ordo to the Tiaze liturgy, how can you see it any differently?

    I would like to see things the way Inos Biffi sees them, but in good conscience, I couldn’t remain behind those blinders.

  6. JKnott says:

    Rich R. “I think we also need to reaffirm that V2, the New Mass, et al are gifts from the Church to us, …”
    Well, yes. Suffering is a gift.
    But in that vein. Our Lady of Fatima said that “War is a punishment for sin.”
    I personally and sincerely believe that the NO and it’s seed bed of abuses is also, “a punishment for sin.”
    Yes, suffering is a gift if offered in union with Our Lord’s suffering and that is what many do at these Masses, isn’t it?

  7. catholicmidwest says:

    Here it comes. Articles like these, being talked about publicly at long last, are the first substantial steps to clarifying what Vatican II was and wasn’t. It’s a wonderful sign that this is all going to work out. I am all for a thoughtful and precise formulation of what happened and what didn’t. I believe that there could not have been a legitimate rupture of doctrine in any genuine council. Any interpretation of Vatican II that says there was is bogus, in my view. But we shall see how this turns out over the next few decades, as it shakes out.

    My guess is that less than 100 years from now, sections of Vatican II, perhaps vast sections of Vatican II, will meet the same fate as sections of the councils of Constance and Basle. That is, I believe that they will be declared non-ecumenical, ie. non-infallible.

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    And, I believe, that this is more than just a few articles at this point. There is a growing body of intellectuals calling for reappraisal and a more balanced interpretation in the light of “the long view.” This is entirely appropriate and overdue in my view. Vatican II cannot stand alone as a source; no one church document can. It must be placed in the context of all the others according to the church’s teaching on the “analogy of faith.” [CCC, 114]

  9. lucianacuppo says:

    I have read ‘Concilio Vaticano II. Il discorso mancato’ (provisional translation: ‘Vatican II: The Missed Subject’). Inos Biffi’s review does not do justice to the book: Biffi dwells on liturgical abuses and cites extensively from his namesake Giacomo Biffi, but Gherardini’s main point is that a reassessment of Vatican II is thoroughly needed. This is very much in the spirit of catholicmidwest et al. on this blog.
    Brunero Gherardini writes in full obedience to the Church, making it clear that, (a) by its own decision, Vatican II did not produce any new dogmatic definitions, (b) only a Pope or a Council ratified by the Pope has the authority to declare what, in Vatican II’s documents, must be rephrased and what can be retained.
    Is an English translation in the works?

    Luciana Cuppo

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