Sunday, April 21, 2013

Confirming What We Already Knew About Vatican II

As reported by Boniface at Unam Sanctam, Cardinal Kaspar basically let fly to the public one of the worst kept secrets in the world. The documents of Vatican II contain intentional ambiguities that are subject to wildly conflicting interpretations.

While I agree with Boniface that this is a stunning admission, that's only the case because someone like Cardinal Kaspar made it. I disagree with this point:

In the Cardinal's statements, we basically have an affirmation of a fundamental thesis of Michael Davies and most Traditionalists: that the Council documents themselves have ambiguities in them and are subject to a multitude of interpretations. This concept of Conciliar ambiguity has been denied by many conservative/pop apologists, who insist that the Council documents are plain as day and it is only the malice of dissenters pushing a false implementation that is responsible for our current confusion.

What Michael Davies and others have said isn't a thesis. It is the universal consensus of anyone who has ever written a history of the Council. Whether it's a conciliar peritus (Romano Amerio), a priest reporting at the Council (Fr. Wiltgen), a cardinal who was present and voting (Cardinal Heenan), a Catholic reporter (Gary MacEoin), a secular bigot reporter (Paul Blanshard), a Protestant observer at the Council (Robert MacAffee Brown), a canon of St. Peter's (Msgr. Brunero Gherardini) or a modern Jesuit (Fr. Robert O'Malley), everybody knows what happened. This isn't a foreign concept to Pope Benedict either. Ignoring this historical reality is a widespread disease, especially among the crowds the Boniface mentions.

I'm not sure there is a way to cure it.

More significant than the above, I think, are Cardinal Kaspar's admissions that the post-conciliar era has been bad.

For most Catholics, the developments put in motion by the council are part of the church’s daily life. But what they are experiencing is not the great new beginning nor the springtime of the church, which were expected at that time, but rather a church that has a wintery look, and shows clear signs of crisis.

That's a direct quote from His Eminence. It is remarkable. It isn't hard to find comments by a number of prominent Church figures, including Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis that describe the Council's achievements in glowing terms. Phrases like "springtime of evangelization" and "New/Second Pentecost" are frequently used with reference to Vatican II. These terms ignore the utter collapse of the Faith in so many circles. It's easy to focus on Africa and SE Asia. What about everywhere else? Why did Pope Benedict feel the need to start a "New Evangelization" if we're going through all these roses and rainbows of the last 50 years?

People need to get real about things. It isn't sinful or schismatic to say that an ecumenical council failed. I haven't seen anybody championing Lateran V recently. That unification at Florence didn't exactly mend the fence with the Orthodox.

It's amazing that Catholic apologists are so well-equipped to talk about mistakes made by popes, yet they absolutely refuse to come to grips with how a council might do likewise. Not only that, but many seem to shudder at the mere possibility. All this intellectual dishonesty and cognitive dissonance does the Church no favors.

Maybe Cardinal Kaspar will have wound up doing some good by being so open about these things.

No comments: