"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vatican II: “Have a little patience, fifty years is nothing”




Q: The Second Vatican Council was a Pastoral Council that also provided dogmatic explanations. Had there ever been anything like it previously in the history of the Church?

A: It does in fact seem as though Vatican II marked the beginning of a new type of Council. The language that was used during it and the completeness of the texts show that the Council fathers was not as much motivated by the need to pass judgement on controversial new ecclesiastical and theological issues, but rather by the wish to turn their attention to public opinion within the Church and the entire world, in the spirit of the annunciation.

Q: Shouldn’t a Council be declared a failure if fifty years on it has not been warmly received by the faithful? Benedict XVI warned against a misleading interpretation of the Council, particularly in terms of the hermeneutics of a rift…

A: This is one of those cliché questions that stem from a new existential sentiment; that feeling of confusion that is typical of our times. But what is fifty years after all?! Cast your mind back to the Council of Nicaea in 325. The disputes surrounding the dogma of this Council - about the nature of the Son, that is, whether he was made of the same substance as the Father or not - continued for more than a hundred years. St. Ambrose was ordained Bishop of Milan on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Council of Nicaea and had to fight hard against the Arians who refused to accept the Nicene provisions. Briefly afterwards came a new Council: the First Council of Constantinople of 381 which was deemed necessary in order to complete the profession of the faith at Nicaea. During this Council, St. Augustine was given the task of dealing with requests and fighting back heretics until his death in 430. Frankly, even the Council of Trent was not very fruitful until the Golden Jubilee of 1596. It took a new generation of Bishops and prelates to mature in the “spirit of the Council” before its effect could really be felt. We need to allow ourselves a little more breathing space.

Q: Let us talk now about the fruits which the Vatican II produced. Can you comment on this?
A: First of all of course the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” in comparison with the Tridentine Catechism: after the Council of Trent, the Catechismus Romanus was launched in order to provide parish priests, preachers etcetera with guidelines on how to preach and announce the Gospel or evangelize.

Even the 1983 Code of Canon Law can be considered a consequence of the Council. I must emphasise that the form of the post-conciliar liturgy with all its distortions, is not attributable to the Council or to the Liturgy Constitution established during Vatican II which by the way has not really been implemented even to this day. The indiscriminate removal of Latin and Gregorian Chants from liturgical celebrations and the erection of numerous altars were absolutely not acts prescribed by the Council.

With the benefit of hindsight, let us cast our minds back in particular to the lack of sensitivity shown in terms of care for the faithful and in the pastoral carelessness shown in the liturgical form. One need only think of the Church’s excesses, reminiscent of the Beeldenstorm (the statue/image storm) which occurred in the 18th century. Excesses which catapulted numerous faithful into total chaos, leaving many fumbling around in the dark.

Just about anything and everything has been said on this subject. Meanwhile, the liturgy has come to be seen as a mirror image of Church life, subject to an organic historical evolution which cannot - as did indeed happen - suddenly be decreedper ordre de muft. And we are still paying the cost today.

New Liturgical Movement


Pontifical Mass of Cardinal Brandmüller


Our friends at Messa in Latino have some first photos of the Pontifical Mass which His Eminence Walter Cardinal Brandmüller, the former President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, celebrated yesterday, Sunday 6 February, with the Franciscans of the Immaculate at Campocavallo di Osimo. Deacon of the Mass, as you can see, was Fr Uwe M. Lang CO.

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