Thursday, January 26, 2006

Para-Council Distorted Vatican II?

(Read the whole thing at Renew America. )

As The Waffling Anglican, I don’t really think I’m competent to offer comments on this, but I know a lot of people are hoping and praying that Benedict XVI will take steps to renew the Catholic liturgy and the “practical theology” being taught to Catholics. In many ways, it seems like the Catholic Church after Vatican II started down the same road that the Mainline Protestant denominations have taken in the West. Unlike them, however, the Catholic Church appears to be turning away from that contemporary stampede to decouple Christianity from the cross, the resurrection, and the gospel of salvation and remake it into a religion of “niceness.” Catholics are coming back to themselves before they go over the edge of the cliff.

Come to think of it, there’s something biblical about that:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. (Mat 16:18, RSV)

May God bless their efforts, and may the trend rub off on non-Catholic Christians everywhere.

Pope Benedict XVI addressed his Roman Curia December 22 with an analysis of the reception of the Second Vatican Council after the past 40 years, and outlined a plan and call for action for the Church to bear fruits. With eager anticipation, many Catholics are now asking, "Could this 40 years of 'wandering in the desert' finally be coming to an end?"

Indeed, perhaps the biblically significant 40 years is over. A "re-centering" of the Church is now perhaps necessary, according to Bishop Álvaro Corrada, SJ, of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas.

Pope Benedict began this reflection on Vatican II on December 8, 2005, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, by calling Mary Immaculate "the key to understanding it." Then, on December 22, he posited two interpretations of the council, often in direct opposition with each other: One he identified as "the hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture," and the other one he claims has borne fruit, "the hermeneutics of reform."

The Pope went on to cite the media and certain segments of modern theology for assisting in disseminating the "hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture." Of course, it is evident that many priests, bishops, and cardinals have aided and abetted this appearance of a break with a preconciliar and postconciliar Church. That is, an appearance, growing more so daily, that the Church prior to the council is a completely different structure than that after the council.

He began his December 22 address with a striking analogy coming from St. Basil in his description of the Church shortly after the Council of Nicaea: "Harsh rises the cry of the combatants encountering one another in dispute; already all the Church is almost full of the inarticulate screams, the unintelligible noises, rising from the ceaseless agitations that divert the right rule of the doctrine of true religion" (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX).

As the prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith — and shortly after Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's consecrations of four bishops against the express will of the Holy Father — then-Cardinal Ratzinger addressed this very topic in detail to the Chilean bishops July 13, 1988 in Santiago, Chile:

"It is a necessary task to defend the Second Vatican Council against Msgr. Lefebvre, as valid, and as binding upon the Church. Certainly there is a mentality of narrow views that isolate Vatican II and which has provoked this opposition. There are many accounts of it which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II."

He continued: "The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest."

[…] Of course, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops still attempts to provide a public show of unity in the name of collegiality through its mountains of writings on topics touching on nearly aspect of American life except on faith and morals. Deo Gratias!

Catholics of the "hermeneutics of reform" (orthodox) variety have long viewed Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., as a model father and pastor in the postconciliar era. And Catholics of the "hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture" (dissidents) may rightly identify him as a combatant and as "preconciliar."

Interesting, though, that it was reported widely that Bishop Bruskewitz's diocese is bearing fruits with a large number of priestly vocations, and with almost no homosexual priests violating children scandals.

[…] But Bishop Bruskewitz is not alone. The Cardinal Bernardin factor, which has dominated the makeup of the USCCB for the past 30 years, is finally giving way to younger prelates much more in line with the perennial teachings of the Church. Quietly, but assuredly, Bishop Álvaro Corrada of Tyler, Texas, is indeed one of these quiet, unknown bishops. His and Bishop Bruskewitz's perspectives on the Pope's recent remarks follow.

Bishop Bruskewitz and Bishop Corrada share their unique and complementary perspectives on the Second Vatican Council and Pope Benedict's December 22 address. This first interview deals specifically with the reception of the Second Vatican Council.
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Q. Your Excellencies, Pope Benedict XVI's pre-Christmas Roman Curia address had a theme of the competing claims, and subsequent struggle, for the true Second Vatican Council. Do you have any comments?

Bishop Corrada: […] There have been some tendencies that have vitiated the Second Vatican Council with some of the thinking of bishops and theologians.

And it is more than that. It is secularism as an ideology. The Catholic Church sees the secular world as the place of the kingdom. But when secularism as an ideology comes and turns the world into a place where there is no transcendental relationship to God, where there is no respect for the dignity of the human person, with abortion and the whole culture of death, that is where I think this Holy Father is asking us to go back to the culture of life. And the evangelization of the Church needs to be directed in that internal reform if we are going to be effective in the world against the ideology of secularism.

Bishop Bruskewitz: […] What happened, however, is there was a para-council of periti, of experts, who all dominated through the whole matrix of media representation of what was going on at the council. Because of that, there were horrible distortions in the popular imagination, including the clerical imagination, including the priests. Even they saw this as a complete rupture. Emotionally and psychologically, people who intellectually might understand that the Mass is the same if you offer it in English or in Latin, [nonetheless] thought, "We have a whole new world here, and this doesn't really mean what it said."

We had this whole rising expectation, this para-council that gave this impression to the world that there was this big revolution. So, when this revolution hit some blank walls like "no women priests" and "no married priests," I think what happened was that then these expectations were frustrated. Then, people got all upset and more in a dissenting and rebellious mood.


Q. Both the Pope and you mentioned the effect the media had on its representation of the council as a revolution. Does the secular media even understand the Church? Do you believe the misrepresentation of the Church is intentional? Or is it out of naivete and ignorance of the Church?

Bishop Bruskewitz: It is ignorance. They are looking for sensationalism. And sometimes the reporters aren't responsible [for what happens]. It is oftentimes the editors. They like to see conflict and this is what sells their product. Of course, sex and religion are explosive issues, and the more you can put that on the pages, the better it is [...]