No New or Different Church | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | Catholic World Report | Sojourns with Schall
The Second Vatican Council did not present or advocate a “new” Church or a “hermeneutic of rupture”.
“The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making power, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply and hence truly to ‘renew them.’ This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.” — Pope Benedict XVI, Reflections at 50th Anniversary of Opening of Vatican II, October 11, 2012.
When the Church does something, it first remembers. Pope Benedict XVI went to Loreto fifty years after Vatican II because Blessed John XXIII went to Loreto at the beginning of Vatican II. Benedict himself tells us that October 11, 1962 was a “splendid day.” He recalls the solemn procession of the two thousand Council Fathers into the St. Peter’s.
Then he remembers that Pius XI, in 1931, had dedicated the day to the Divine Motherhood of Mary. And why was this? To recall that 1500 years before this date, in 431, the Council of Ephesus acknowledged Mary as Mother of God; it affirmed “God’s indissoluble union with man in Christ.” John XXIII obviously chose this day, with all its overtones in full memory “to anchor the Council’s work firmly in the mystery of Jesus Christ.” Benedict, who was there as a young theologian, saw this procession as witness to the “image of the Church of Jesus Christ which embraces the whole world.”
Whether fifty years is sufficient to evaluate fully the work of Vatican II is doubtful. Benedict is frank. At the time the Church appeared to be losing influence in society. “Christianity, which had built and formed the Western world, seemed more and more to be losing its power to shape society. It appeared weary and it looked as if its (the West’s) future would be determined by other spiritual forces.” But the call of the Council seemed to be an innovation of great moment. “Great things were about to happen,” as Benedict recalled the mood at the time. The Italian word aggiornamento—to bring up-to-date—was on everyone’s lips.