Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vatican II Turns Fifty – Part I: Catholic in an Age of Discontent

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae at These Stone Walls

...Readers seemed to agree that the unrelenting hostility toward the Church and priests in some corners of our culture has roots in the 1960s and 1970s, and especially in the implementation of the decrees and documents of Vatican II.

Note the word “implementation.” Despite the dissent of extreme views, the problem has never been the Council itself but rather what happened in its wake. Like the rest of the Western world, Catholics became polarized between the views of the left and the views of the right. In politics, what was once a national divide has become a national abyss the likes of which have not been seen since the Civil War. What happened in the Church after Vatican II is a reflection of what happened at the very same time throughout our culture....

It was at the start of that very same decade of immense social change that Blessed Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council. The goal of the Council was not doctrinal, but pastoral. Its goal was “aggiornamento,” the renewal of pastoral practice that Pope John XXIII envisioned would help evangelize a world approaching the 21st Century. So far, much of the opposite has occurred in response, but the Holy Spirit hasn’t finished yet. The point I want to make is that Vatican II remains a work in progress. It now requires a counter-reform to respond to dissent with fidelity.

The problem for Catholics is not the legitimacy of Vatican II. Of course it was legitimate. As the late Notre Dame philosophy professor, Ralph McInerny described in What Went Wrong with Vatican II (Sophia Institute Press, 1998):
“That which makes Vatican II valid is what made Vatican I, the Council of Trent, and every other council valid. To accept one Council is to accept them all. To reject one Council is to reject them all. We cannot have pick and choose conciliarism . . . I take it as a necessary premise the fact that we are bound by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.” (p. 15).
Dissenting views from both extremes of an ideological divide really seem to be a challenge not for the implementation of Vatican Council II, but for Vatican Council I and its definitions of authority in our Church – definitions of authority that were upheld clearly in the Documents of Vatican II. It comes down to whether our ideologies have become goals in and of themselves, and therefore obstacles to our acceptance of the authority of the Pope and Magisterium. If so, they are obstacles to grace... (continued)


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