"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)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

50 Years After Vatican II

Council Experts Reflect on Its Positive (and Negative) Effects on the Church

by Edward Pentin, Rome Correspondent Monday, Oct 01, 2012 12:25 PM

VATICAN CITY — The Second Vatican Council was one of the most important ecumenical councils in the history of the Catholic Church.

Its intention, Blessed Pope John XXIII said at its opening ceremony, Oct. 11, 1962, was "to give to the world the whole of that [Church] doctrine which, notwithstanding every difficulty and contradiction, has become the common heritage of mankind — to transmit it in all its purity, undiluted, undistorted."

Indeed, the Council made the Church more accessible to the world and accelerated the historical change from Counter-Reformation Catholicism to the Catholicism of the New Evangelization.

Moreover, two of the Council’s most active and enthusiastic participants subsequently became popes. Polish Bishop Karol Wojtyla was elected as Pope John Paul II in October 1978. And Joseph Ratzinger, who served as the theological peritus (expert adviser) to German Cardinal Joseph Frings, became Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005.

Like John Paul before him, Benedict has never wavered in his endorsement of the Council.

"We could say that the New Evangelization began precisely with the Council, which Blessed John XXIII saw as a new Pentecost that would see the Church flourish through its inner wealth and maternally extend to all fields of human activity," the Pope commented Sept. 20 at a Vatican conference.

But according to some leading experts on the Council, the Council also lacked adequate mechanisms for putting its decrees into effect, leaving their implementation open to misinterpretation and influence by "progressive" movements that saw the Council as a rupture with Tradition.

It was also hampered by its timing, arriving as the hedonistic, social revolution of the 1960s was just beginning.

These are some of the reflections a group of scholars shared with the Register as the Church prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

American theologian Michael Novak, who reported on the Council as a journalist and attended its entire second session with his wife, remembers well the atmosphere of the time.

"It was so hopeful and wonderful, such a joyous feeling everywhere," he recalled. "We were quite thrilled to see, for the first time, what a large, worldwide organization the Catholic Church is."

A Return to the Roots

For Novak, a major strength of the Council was its "prevalence of resourcement" — its return to the sources and strengths of early and medieval Christian thought, to refound the Church’s "doctrinal history, putting it in a much deeper context."

According to Novak, before the Council, the Church was stifled by a reactionary spirit that viewed the modern world negatively. He said the Council helped Catholics rediscover "a much more dynamic, creative God, who is a communion of persons; not an isolated being, but led toward community and toward the human person — which is the very meaning of the Trinity."

Jesuit Father Norman Tanner, professor of Church history at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, said the Council was "hugely important," both in its renewal of Catholic faith and in the breadth of its subject matter.

"It expressed the Christian faith in the language of the 20th century," he said. "Its decrees come to 300 pages, twice as long as any Council … so just in sheer quantity and the number of issues it covers, it was exceptional."

Father Tanner, author of a new book, Vatican II: The Essential Texts, said the Council had something "serious to say on a huge range of issues" that impact ordinary Christians and others. He emphasized that Vatican II documents such as the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World), were, for the first time in a Church council, explicitly directed to all people.

Theologian and papal biographer George Weigel said the Council "accelerated the historical transition from Counter-Reformation Catholicism to the Catholicism of the New Evangelization," or, as he prefers to call it, "Evangelical Catholicism."

Said Weigel, "As the completion of that transition is absolutely essential to meeting the challenge of postmodern culture and its hostility to biblical religion, it’s clear in retrospect that Vatican II was a providential event."

Problematic Timing

But problems soon followed in the misinterpretation of conciliar decrees, particularly concerning the liturgy. Previous councils had centralized procedures, Father Tanner said, "to make sure the decrees were observed, whereas with the Second Vatican Council, there wasn’t the same mechanism for putting them into practice. There were no tight statements you could easily enforce."

For Novak, the Second Vatican Council’s greatest weakness was its timing.

"The 1960s were a very intellectually confused decade, and the fact that the Church threw open its windows just then brought in a lot of poisonous air," he said.

Many other criticisms have been made, including that documents such as Gaudium et Spes were optimistically naive and that some documents reversed previously held Church teachings, particularly on religious freedom and ecumenism.

The Council’s supporters refute such criticisms and agree with Benedict’s view that there was no rupture with Catholic Tradition, but, rather, it was a development that he has characterized as a "hermeneutic of continuity."

Some Catholics have called for a new papal encyclical to help clarify what is binding in conciliar documents and what are merely pastoral guidelines. Weigel believes that’s unnecessary.

"I think Catholics should stop fretting about ‘what is binding and what is not,’" he said. "There is no papal encyclical telling us that the Nicene Creed is binding."

Added Weigel, "No sane Catholic denies that the teaching of the Second Vatican Council was an authoritative act of the magisterium."

Father Joseph Kramer of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is a parish priest at the traditionalist Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini in Rome. He also thinks there has been sufficient clarification.

"There’s a huge amount of material in them [the documents], so the idea of putting out another clarification is a bit impractical — because you’d have to publish hundreds of pages," he said. "The Pope’s given us the basic line to take."

Moving Forward

After 50 years, many of the Council’s fruits have become clearer. Critics point to a collapse of vocations and emptying churches in the West, continued liturgical abuses and a mentality that at times seems secularist.

Father Tanner said the Church needed time to integrate the Second Vatican Council, as with other important councils. For instance, the fourth-century First Council of Nicaea, convened to address the Arian heresy, was opposed by many Catholics and "took a good half century or more before it was received," he noted.

Novak doesn’t deny the problems. But he prefers to dwell on the Council’s good fruits, of which he says there are many.

The Catholic Church is growing rapidly, Novak said, with its growth especially rapid in the Third World. And he cited the development of the Church’s new movements and greater lay involvement as other positive post-conciliar signs.

The Church today, Novak said, has a "vitality of faith, with a new spirit and ‘outwardness’ everywhere you go."

Edward Pentin

writes from Rome.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/50-years-after-vatican-ii/#ixzz28v35Bg6B

By Their Fruits...

The Church of Vatican II
Ireland. Only 12 new seminarians for its sole remaining major seminary

An Irish Jesuit vocations promotion poster, 2011. Source.

The main image in the Diocese of Derry's "vocations promotion" poster. Source.

From the website of the Irish Bishops' Catholic Conference (h/t Lux Occulta):

Twelve seminarians to begin priesthood studies at Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth

Today Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth, the National Seminary for Ireland, welcomed twelve seminarians who will commence their formation for the priesthood.

At the conclusion of the ‘Introductory Programme’ at the end of September, three of the new seminarians from Northern dioceses will continue their studies at Saint Malachy’s College in Belfast.


A breakdown, by diocese, of the twelve first year seminarians for 2012 is: Clogher (1), Cloyne (1), Down & Connor (2), Dublin (3), Ferns (1), Kerry (2), Meath (1), Raphoe (1). At the end of September the total number of seminarians in Maynooth will be approximately 64.

Over the last five years the number of new seminarians beginning their studies in Maynooth has been: 13 in 2011; 10 in 2010; 24 in 2009; 14 in 2008; 18 in 2007.

The final figure for the number of seminarians in the 2012 entry class will be confirmed in December after the students complete the class retreat and the ‘Introductory Programme’.

Take note that 12 is not yet the final figure for the number of seminarians in the 2012 entry class; it can -- and most likely will -- still shrink.

Ireland has 26 dioceses.

Lux Occulta has the following analysis of Ireland's continuing (and worsening) vocations crisis.

"The Irish bishops’ much-celebrated Year for Vocations in 2008-2009 was a failure. Numbers entering Maynooth increased by only 20% in 2009 from the previous year, a relatively insignificant jump when you consider both the low base from which it proceeded and the vast resources that were poured into the campaign. This could be partly attributed to the fallout from the Ryan Report released that year; likewise, the even lower numbers for this year and 2011 might have been affected by the impact of the Cloyne Report and the Cardinal Brady scandal. But the collapse of vocations continues an ongoing trend from long before the sex scandals emerged in the 1990s. By the late 1980s vocations had collapsed to such an extent that Cardinal O’Fiaich provoked surprise when he predicted that Ireland would soon have to import priests from Africa. Even a writer as hostile to the Church as Malachi O’Doherty observes in Empty Pulpits that the dearth of vocations can’t be attributed wholesale to the sex scandals: “Even before that shock hit, there were few left in their right minds who would want to take holy orders.” 

One reason for the failure of the Year of Vocations lay in the insipid marketing mentality which has come to dominate the Irish episcopal conference and its attendant bureaucracy. In common with the consumerist mentality of western society, the Irish bishops thought you could solve a problem just by throwing money at it and hiring some advertising consultants. Another reason lay in the campaign’s secular and naturalist presentation of the priesthood. The priest’s role of ‘service’ and ‘listening’ was heavily emphasized, but in such a way that priesthood was portrayed as just another career, entirely devoid of a supernatural character. 

I would suggest that the crisis in vocations has much deeper roots. Perusing historic ordination statistics for Maynooth, one is immediately impressed with the fact that the crisis in vocations goes back all the way to the 1960s. Ordinations at Maynooth peaked in 1963 when 558 new priests were ordained. The trajectory after that is unrelentingly downward. This is particularly dramatic in the case of Dublin. In 1962 (the same year the Second Vatican Council began its deliberations) 21 new priests from Maynooth (Note: Dublin also had its own seminary at Clonliffe until 2001) were ordained for the diocese of Dublin. By 1970, a mere eight years later, only 2 new priests from Maynooth were ordained for that highly populated diocese. The following year seen the ordination of just 1 priest, while no Dublin priests were ordained in 1972, a trend that continued until 1982 (when one Dublin priest was ordained). 

It seems somewhat curious that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin incessantly focuses on the defects (real or perceived) of the pre-conciliar Irish Church (which, for all its problems, certainly had no crisis in vocations) while largely ignoring the demise of his own archdiocese, which is (literally) dying off rapidly before our very eyes. Dublin contains over a million Catholics, yet Archbishop Diarmuid Martin can persuade only 4 Catholic men in his archdiocese to become a diocesan priest. Meanwhile a whole generation of clergy are passing with no-one to replace them. 

A bishop who cannot ensure enough recruits to sustain his diocese has failed. Alas, the renewal of Irish Catholicism that the Pope calls for is being implemented by the same men who have led us into this mess."

The reference to Archbishop Martin's focus "on the defects...of the pre-conciliar Irish Church" has been on public display at least twice this year, notably when he gave a lecture this February on "Reform of the Church in Ireland: Facing the Future with Hope", and as recently as last month, when he disparaged Ireland's dwindling number of seminarians as "fragile and some are much more traditional than those who went before them". (See Martin needs to offer hope and solutions.)


42 first-year seminary entries!

LaPorteLatine (the French District) has reported that for the academic year of2012-2013 at the SSPX's seminaries of Winona, Zaitzkofen, Flavigny, andAlbano, there are 42 entries for the first year (of Spirituality), 16pre-seminarians (Humanities) and 8 postulants to study for the religious brothers. Here break down by seminary the origin of the new entries.

The new academic class at Flavigny, minus 2 seminarians

St. Thomas Aquinas Winona Seminary, Winona, Minnesota

15 in Spirituality:
14 American
1 Canadian

14 pre-seminarians in Humanities:
12 American
1 Irish
1 Canadian

3 postulants in Brothers’ Novitiate:
2 American
1 Canadian

Sacred Heart Seminary, Zaitzkofen, Germany

10 seminarians:
4 German
2 Swiss
2 Polish
1 Russian
1 Argentinean

2 brothers applicants:
1 German
1 Swiss

Holy Cure d'Ars Seminary,Flavigny, France

17 seminarians:
10 French
2 English
2 Canadian
2 Swiss
1 Italian

3 brothers applicants:
1 French
1 Swiss
1 Canadian

Fraternita San Pio X (pre-seminary at District Office), Albano, Italy

1 Italian

Please keep these seminarians in your prayers throughout the academic year, that they may persevere in their vocation.

1 comment:

  1. Hi KWTC
    Just a thought, I enjoy your blog and you have a lot of interesting stuff. On this post - Zaitzkofen in the 1990s and before had around 30 seminarians and then brothers and professors on top of that. Their reduction to 10, half of them foreigners, goes to show that the vocations crisis is everywhere. So everything is not always so rosy on the other side of the fence either.