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Thursday, February 04, 2010



One word: Wow.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Great contribution Carl; so much to deal with, so little time.

Robert Miller

Thanks, Carl, for the post and links to the correspondence.

In my opinion, this is the most important discussion 21st century Catholics can be having about Vatican II.

What I would caution against is any temptation to go "fundamentalist" about the Council -- whether from the perspective of a hermeneutic of continuity or from the perspectives of either of the hermeneutics of discontinuity (modernist or integrist).

Having said that, I offer the observation that the documents of the Council certainly seem to have experimented with formulations that sound ambiguous (take, for example, what to me is the most pregnant with ambiguity: Sacrosanctum Concilium's "actuosa participatione"). Is my participation more "actuosa" when I regurgitate poorly-translated responses aloud or when I read my missal, silently meditating on the majestic words being read in Latin by alter Christus? Is my participation more "actuosa" when I, a layman, hand the Sacred Species to a communicant, or when I kneel to receive the Sacred Species on my tongue? Of course, Gaudium et Spes is replete with these kinds of ambiguities when it looks at the Church in the "modern world".

But I tend to think that the real question about Vatican II is "why?", "why then?". Why the priorities and why the order in which the Fathers dealt with them?

This is the connection in which the question of Vatican II's ostensible naive optimism takes center stage.

I will offer my working hypothesis that the Council was called and directed, by its human agents, from a mixture of naive optimism and disingenuousness. I think Doorly very accurately explains the sources of the naive optimism with her evocation of the chastened and seemingly benign secular liberal cultural atmosphere of Europe and the United States in the postwar 1950s. She also liberally draws on the profound work of Pope Pius XII in treating authoritatively all of the central issues treated by the Council: renewal of the liturgy (Mediator Dei), the Church (Mystici Corporis), Faith and the modern world (Humani Generis), the place of Scripture in Catholic life (Divino Afflante Spiritu), the mystery of Redemption (definition of the dogma of the Assumption and Haurietis Aquas)and the proper attitude of Catholics toward godless political movements (Summi Pontificatus, and his efforts to save persecuted Jews and Christians).

Following that "tour de force", why did the Church need a Council? Every Council called in the past had been called to deal with and settle in visible communion matters in controversy. There was no overt controversy about any of the matters "settled" by Servant of God Pius XII.

So, the real question is why the Holy Spirit inspired Blessed John XXIII to call Vatican II. After the fact, the disingenuous of the Council years read back into the record an almost universal yearning for a "reform in Head and members". The naive of the Council years either had no answer, or tried to argue that the disingenuous had "gone too far".

Maybe the real reason the Holy Spirit inspired Blessed John to call Vatican II was to make it possible for Benedict the Magnificent to succeed the Venerable Pastor Angelicus, Pius.

I'd like to connect a few more dots, but this will have to do for now...

Thanks again, Carl.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

In our sight of matters embracing Intellect and Faith; Philosophy and Theology; Intellechy and Worship we may find true hardship when approaching any intent to understand well what Vatican II left behind.
The epistolic dialogue between Moyra Doorly and Fr. Aidan Nichols, undoubtedly of great consequence, shows us how a contradiction can become remarkable or defenseless depending where you come from. Whoever tries to diminish the importance of separating catholics between traditionalists and modernists need only face the views defended by our two interlocutors.
Doorly shows loyalty to the tradition of Liturgy before Paul VI rather well, whereas Fr. Nichols as we see, states with a wealth of educated argument how the Novum Ordo is not that bad.
If we follow Benedict XVI advice we assert that the Incarnation is best celebrated in the Eucharist through the Immolation of our Lord Jesus Christ to redeem our sins. We have, then, a Liturgy that expresses the Catholic Faith and the Mass as a Sacrifice where God meets man, in the Second Person, physically and spiritually present to us. Father Nichols presents the Mass, which is synonymus of Sacrifice in a qualified manner. He dilutes it into a Sacrifice of Supplication (laetric). id est: propitiatory.
I found the weakest point in Fr. Nichols thesis where he clearly gives more significance to how the priest is physically located as the celebrant. His best point: assenting with Doorly to 're-sacrificialise' the Mass.

*comment to Robert Miller.
The present crisis in the Catholic Church is, perhaps, comparable to the Reformation. The paradox is that in the 15th century we needed a Council and didn't get it; whereas in less than 1/2 a century ago we got one we didn't need.

Robert Miller


Notwithstanding the remarks in my first post about the comparative uniqueness of Vatican 2, I do think it bears some resemblance to Constance (1414-1418). (Interestingly enough, if my history doesn't fail me here, it was called in the name of the first Pope John XXIII!)

Constance dealt with the front end, if you will, of the issue of "the Church in the modern world" -- Vatican 2 with the back end. In both instances, the councils left ambiguous legacies. Constance, most notably, resolved the Great Schism, but it also gave new life to the ideas of the Conciliarists. It voted in national "conferences", foreshadowing the "back end" of the modern experiment. And, while burning Hus, it also paid deference to the new ideas of national sovereignty and autonomy of the conscience.

The sobering reflection that arises in me is that it took 150 years -- and the loss of millions to the Catholic Faith -- for the Church to overcome the legacy of Constance, through the Council of Trent.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Measuring the merit or disadvantage of the Constance Council (1414) can be a complicated task. You really took us back 600 years when our Church instead of representing continuity with the past and what was the most civilized, instead, she sailed through muddy waters. A time when the Church turned over from unpolitical(early Church) to a secularized form of structure. I believe the magnitude of unpriestly behavior at the highest levels, usual for the times, easily distracts us from the meaningful misteps that brought serious consequences.
The Avignon factor played a key role when considering such troubling days. Such long interregnum had to be ended, but it left lingering problems. We know that politics continued to engender rivalry and ambition; popes behaved as absolute kings and cardinals were co-rulers that exposed incredulity of official virtue, often matched by lack of common sense. The fathers tried to create a power above the pope: Councils. But councils turned into disasters like the one in Pisa(1409) which deposed Gregory XII and Benedict XII electing Alexander V. There were then three popes. Such unsavory times brought ugly moments to be remembered. You mentioned the first John XXIII, whose name was Baldassare Rossa. He was an ex-pirate and when Constance Council handed down punishment for two heretics, the bavarian Huss was burned at the stake, and his teacher Wycliffe (1320-84) an Oxford scholastic that although a late bloomer into heresy, worked assiduously to fight Rome. He died and remained buried until Constance Council took place when his bones were exhumed and then burned.
After Constance and other minor councils, the papacy appeared the winner but lost power and prestige.
A triumph could be considered for the conciliarists after Pisa. There was a clamor for limiting the popes power; they then could not dismiss councils and were forced , as well, to convoke periodical councils every seven years.

You are right that it took too long for the Church to arrive at Trent which, I think now, was a gift from God. Pius V left us a great legacy.

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