Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vatican II's Real Birthday

What most folks don't realize is that, while Blessed John XXIII did formally open the Council on October 11, 1962, the initial working session was October 13. On that day, the whole thing came unraveled. You can read the full account of what happened at our prior posts here and here.

The gentleman in the picture above could probably be regarded as the Godfather of the Spirit of Vatican II. He's Cardinal Achille Lienart of France. Most folks don't understand how Blessed John's original vision of the Council was shattered, largely thanks to this guy and his allies. As mentioned previously, the whole story is above, but for those looking for the nutshell version, a group of prelates, mostly from the Rhine area of Europe, essentially desired to change the Church's teachings on a plethora or issues. They knew that they would be unable to do so. With that in mind, they met in advance of the Council and formed a plan to overthrow all of the initial preparatory work initiated by Pope John.

In a blatant violation of the Council's rules of order, Cardinal Lienart took the microphone and demanded that all of the individual schema commissions be revisited and that new members of each commission be appointed. This was quickly seconded by Cardinal Frings and enough bishops followed along to pass the motion. The Rhine group block voted their way to power on the commissions, meaning they controlled the draft language to be submitted to the approving votes by the bishops as a whole. The plan at this point called for obfuscation and ambiguity so that, in the words of Dutch theologian Ed Schillebeecx:

We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.

Hence the Spirit of Vatican II was born.

This is all very important, though. There is a tendency to claim that the documents of Vatican II have nothing to do with the current crisis and that the "Spirit" promoted by the current crop of modernists is somehow a total fabrication. What we know from the actual conciliar events is that the documents are indeed part of the problem because they were drafted with the purpose of muddying the waters and making the "Spirit" defensible to the masses. Does this mean that the entirety of Vatican II is somehow bad or that there is no orthodox reading thereof? No. It means that the difficulties we've had with the interpretation of the Council was intentional and, as a result, we should be cautious in reading it.

Moreover, it calls us to focus on the fact that Vatican II lacks dogmatic character and infallible content except in the cases when it repeats content previously identified as infallible. If we were being objective, we'd have to acknowledge that VII is on the bottom rung for ecumenical council importance.  Yet somehow it is heralded by some as a "New Pentecost" and other such superlative titles. This is the perception fostered by the re-interpreters who must de-emphasize what came before and exalt what they are using as the foundation of their novelties.

There's been a lot of work done to fix all this, but the genie doesn't go back in the bottle so easily. For anyone reading the documents on their own, we can only recommend sticking to the text and considering the footnotes. If you think something sounds hope-and-changeish, consider why you think that and what other interpretation might be possible.

What are we left with at the moment? We are left with the inescapable conclusion that the Council is a failure. Sure, you can always point to some undefined period in the future when we'll all look back at the now and laugh because the conciliar fruit is so awesome. Until then, all we have seen is an enormous loss of faith, withering vocations, disco liturgy, etc. A good synopsis was furnished by Kenneth Jones back in 2003. And he's an ND grad.

Anyways, what makes the Vatican II situation so unique is that the content of the Faith and its attending disciplines are painted as their opposites. Nobody has ever said that Nicea said that Jesus wasn't of the same substance as the Father. Or that Chalcedon said Christ wasn't Divine. With Vatican II, you have folks saying the Council said things like:

1. Any religion can save you.
2. Latin should not be the language of the liturgy.
3. The Mass is just a communal meal.
4. Lay folk are the same as priests.
5. Personal conscience dictates morality.

These are the exact opposites of Catholic teachings. This is completely different from anything we've faced before. We know how it happened. The question is whether or not the "decomposition of Catholicism," as Fr. Bouyer called it, that was wrought in the post-conciliar era will be reversed anytime soon.

Not necessarily.

Luke 18:8


The Romish Papist said...

You sound like you've been reading/listening to Michael Davies

Throwback said...

As our prior entries have indicated, we're going off of a series of books regarding the history of the Council. None of them are by Mr. Davies, but we heartily recommend them to everyone.

1. Iota Unum by Romano Amerio
2. What Happened at Rome? by Gary MacEoin
3. The Ecumenical Revolution by Robert MacAffee Brown
4. Paul Blanshard at Vatican II by Paul Blanshard
5. The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber by Fr. Ralph Wiltgen

Of these works, only the first can be labeled as "traditionalist" or "conservative," which is why they are so valuable. Whatever account one reads of VII, everything is the same: there was a group that wanted to change Church teaching and hijacked the Council to make their visions a reality.