“There was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media.”

I was recently sent a link to a video of one of the last appearances of Benedict XVI during his pontificate. This is the famous audience during which he spoke about the “Council of the media”.


I think it is interesting to compare Benedict’s words to what happened during the recent Synod of Bishops, and what is likely to happen at the next Synod, next year.

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  1. jfk03 says:

    A great and holy man expressing his unparalleled insight into how the Council was high jacked by secular forces. A convert at age 19, I was so turned off by the banalization of the liturgy, that I dropped out for 20 years after the council. I wish I had the insight and fortitude to stick with Church in its hour of need.

    The Liturgy is vastly important to the Body of Christ on many planes. If the Evil One can disrupt the Liturgy, how many souls he can separate from their Master!

  2. Traductora says:

    First of all, I really miss Pope Benedict, not only because of his orthodoxy, but because I think I just took it for granted that the Pope would always be someone brilliant, clear-thinking and precise and careful in his speech. I never had to wonder what Pope Benedict “really” meant.

    I think he’s right about the Council – of 50 years ago. The media, to a great extent, was able to impose their vision of what was happening, which they saw and expressed in political terms. However, I don’t think even that Council was exempt from participants who also saw it in political terms and in many ways picked up the media interpretation and ran with it, giving us the “Spirit of Vatican II.” It wasn’t the media that destroyed the liturgy, brought immorality into the seminaries, and turned sisters into feminist harridans; obviously, journalists approved of and praised all this, but they didn’t do it themselves. However, I think the Spirit of Vatican II would have been nowhere near as effective if the journalistic “magnification” hadn’t made it seem bigger than it was and made it look like resistance was futile.

    I think it’s slightly different this time around, however, because the same forces (and even some of the same people, alas!) who found that their way of thinking and acting happily coincided with that of the secular journalists 50 years ago now realize that they can use this force strategically. The peculiar and controlled timing of materials released during the Synod, the documents that seemed to come from nowhere and exist just long enough to get out into the public sphere, and the supposedly “leaked” observations of participants indicate to me that at least some of the people involved in the Synod understood the power of secular journalism to shape the agenda or at least define the terms in the mind of the rest of the world outside of Rome. I’m not sure what can be done to prevent this in the future.

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    The Pope (now) Emeritus contrasts (1) the Council of the Fathers with (2) the Council of the Media/Journalists (as well as distinguishing – in the audio translation (2) “the world” and (3) “the people”). The latter ‘Council’ see things in political terms,”outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics”. But when he then speaks of “whatever faction best suited their world” (c. 1:30) – is this a non-existent imagined and imaginary “faction” the Media dreamed up, or does it correspond to something within the visible Church and the Council of the Fathers? Similarly of “the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help” (c. 2;10). In any case, the problems he goes on to sketch as “translations trivializing the ideas of the Council” (c. 3:20) “virulent in the practice of inplementing the litugical reform” were not invented – and certainly not implemented – by journalists, but by people in Orders, members of the Hierarchy, who were, variously, either improperly active or at least imprudently passive and docile. The Council of the Media facilitated, rather than initiating, the ‘matters’ implemented.

  4. robtbrown says:

    There was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media.

    He certainly has a point. On the other hand, Bugnini wasn’t a member of the media.

  5. robtbrown says:

    And neither were Rahner or Schillebeeckx.

  6. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In how far has success over the past half-century given the ‘Media’ more power in ‘implementing’-by-Hierarchical-proxy what Archbishop Sneider calls “the principles of the world gender ideology party”, more easily intimidating where it meets with anything short of hearty concurrence than its precursor of 50 years ago could?

  7. donato2 says:

    On the history of Vatican II I highly recommend Roberto de Mattei’s “Il Concilio Vaticano II: Una storia mai scritta,” which has been translated into English. The book details how the German/Dutch/French bishops, in opposition to the tradition-oriented curia, successfully advocated the “progressive” position on issue after issue. As is well known, Ratzinger participated in that effort in his role as an adviser to Cardinal Frings.

    The more liberal council fathers definitely had at least part of the agenda that the “council of the media” continues to pursue today. de Mattei’s book also is eye-opening, for me anyway, in that it reveals that many of the things that Pope Francis advocates today were advocated by the liberal council fathers and their like-minded theologians during Vatican II. It has led me to conclude that Pope Francis is indisputably in that camp notwithstanding his claim to support the hermeneutic of continuity.

  8. Unwilling says:

    Around 2:45 E sappiamo che c’era una tendenza, che si fondava anche storicamente, a dire: La sacralità è una cosa pagana, eventualmente anche dell’Antico Testamento.

    They claim that sacralità, sacrality [docs .va], Das Heilige [R.Otto], or sacredness [Radio .va] is pagan!

    Wow! That explains everything. It is like the claim of some post-moderns that the ideal of and respect for “rationality” in argument is a plot, a trick, to overpower opponents. ‘The claim that arguments or proposals to be accepted must be justified and validated by truth and logic is a spurious strategy to overwhelm those foolish enough to be taken in. Down with reason!’

    Anyway, is there a locus classicus for this theological tendenza storicamente fondava about “the sacred” that someone here could direct me to? Please.

    It seems to me that to deny the central and foundational concept of “the sacred” in (at least Catholic) religion is like denying the role of non-contradiction in Philosophy. As in: “Is nothing sacred?”

    I notice “peripherally” the apparently related assertion that “it matters only that Christ died outside [fuore]: that is, outside the gates, in the profane world.” Is this connected to the recent claim that renewal and salvation come from there?

  9. Traductora says:

    donato2, I think one of the reasons that BXVI was trying to shift the blame a bit was that he did participate in Vatican II as a peritus and was an aide to Cdl Frings, who was known mainly for wanting to have the Holy Office (as it was) dismantled. There was probably some good foundation for this, because it wasn’t very effective anyway. However, the Joseph Ratzinger of those days (and even Cdl Frings, it seems) certainly wasn’t a “liberal.”

    I myself remember being happy about the possibilities of Vatican II, because there really were things that needed to be done in terms of shedding the image of what in the US was a church that was based on one’s membership in a traditionally Catholic immigrant group, where converts to the Faith were actually rather suspect, and in Europe, a Church that considered “respectability” to be a cardinal virtue (and which was also very suspicious of converts drawn by the Faith). I think Pope Benedict himself probably feels that he was used by the less honest forces behind Vatican II, and he actually, very soon after the Council, began to distance himself from these things. Authors and thinkers such as De Lubac did likewise, because their ideas had been kidnapped and completely twisted by the evil forces.

  10. mysticalrose says:

    Traductora: I largely agree with you. However, despite later papal approbation of DeLubac, he really was the guiding force behind the Council. Keep in mind he stands behind both Rahner AND Von Balthasar — both of whom were quite iconoclastic, even if conservatives attempt to rehabilitate the latter. DeLubac intended to dismantle the Thomistic vision, and really successfully achieved this. While I am sympathetic to a retrieval of Patristic sources, I am not in favor of DeLubac’s privileging of these pre-Nicaea/pre-Chalcedon voices over the Thomistic synthesis.

  11. St. Rafael says:

    I never did agree with Benedict on that one. Unlike this year’s synod, Vatican II was successfully hijacked and you can’t blame the media for that. The media was never responsible for the Vatican II documents. That falls on the Council fathers. There is no one to blame for Vatican II, but the clerics themselves.

    One of the reasons Pope Benedict never fixed the problems with Vatican II or the Vatican II documents like many wished, is that he himself was part of the hijacking of Vatican II. He was one of the leading periti. He worked side by side with all the liberal hijackers. He was part of them. Part of the liberal periti. He worked side by side with Rahner, De Lubac, Von Balthasar, Kung, and Schillebeeckx.
    He distanced himself after the Council, but the damage was done. He claimed he was not part of the aggiornamento movement, but part of the resourcement movement. However, even the ideas of the resourcement movement were already condemned by Pius XII in Mediator Dei. Being part of the Vatican II generation, he could never repudiate them or himself.

  12. doncamillo says:

    My remarks after reading some of the comments above:

    Thomism is not the only theology allowed in the Catholic Church, even if it is an (the) official point of reference: criticism (may be eventually wrong, or even not [immaculate conception, infusion of the soul]) is not impermissible; critical debates about certain perspectives established in the Scholastic tradition are certainly allowed, otherwise there wouldn’t be “progress” in the Catholic sense (and is Newman a Scholastic?).
    Secondly, I frequently see lot of dismissive comments about De Lubac, von Balthasar, Danielou, etc. incredibly conflating them with a rather different group including Rhaner, Congar and Schillebeeckx: it is evident the underlying ignorance about the respective theologies. I suggest consulting some of the good books written in your English language (like Aidan Nichols’ and Fr. Oakes’ ones), not only blogs on the web; even the original texts are easily available for those really brave!
    Besides, Rhaner’s (or even Kung’s) earlier works are quite different from their later (ideologically, imo, and polemically driven) production: some are really interesting.
    Briefly noted:
    – (Cardinal!) De Lubac’s, as well as (Cardinal!) Balthasar’s obedience to the Church, even when subject to the Church’s official authoritative criticism (which is not always permanent), stands as an example for every Catholic theologian;
    – von Balthasar was not a peritus and wasn’t present at VII;
    – Vatican II is a valid Council of the Catholic Church: you can certainly criticize its implementation and, especially, the un-Catholic spirit of some of the actors, but: it remains a valid Council, to be faithfully and intelligently obeyed.


  13. The Cobbler says:

    I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, that this cannot be the same in the foreseeable future for the simple reason, demonstrated at the recent synod, that those who hold the true Faith know what happened by now and are on the lookout this time…

  14. Pingback: The Real Synod and the Synod of the Media - BigPulpit.com

  15. jaymcnally says:

    Too much influence is attributed to “the media,” and I was saddened to read Benedict’s comments.
    No journalist in “the media” sets policy for the Vatican or in any dioceses. They report on what’s going on.
    The collapse of the Church since Vatican II is largely due to the failure of leadership by the hierarchy.

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