"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)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Second Vatican Council prophecy and the matter of tradition



The “most interesting part” of Benedict XVI’s speech to the Curia in 2005, when he took stock of how the Second Vatican Council had been received, is the one concerning the relationship between the modern world and the Church as Ratzinger turned “the situation prospected by the traditionalists upside down”.

In fact “ In order to explain to them the open-mindedness of the Vatican II, the pope stated that the Church did not forgo and did not change its (immutable) principles, but rather that the modern world has undergone unexpected developments”

The article entitled “ the Second Vatican Council prophecy” by Father Enrico Cattaneo also emphasizes that the pope’s recent decisions, such as liberalizing Mass with Pius V’s missal and lifting the excommunication of the Lefebvrian bishops, do not undermine the pope’s view of the Council as “beneficial to the Church” and his belief that “ the doctrine of the Conciliar documents is wholly Catholic”, despite some people interpreting Benedict’s choices as some sort of acceptance of the conservative idea connecting the Church’s crisis to the Council.

Moreover the detailed paper written by the Jesuit, professor of theology in Naples and at The Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, shows that Paul VI and John Paul II also shared Benedict XVI’s view of the Council. Father Cattaneo writes at length about these popes in connection with the ecumenical assemblies of the 1900s and highlights some specific problems, among which the ignorance of many of the people living at the time of the Council, the weight of the media that influenced the Council’s development, the post -Conciliar problems and the crisis of Faith; in order to combat which, five decades after the Vatican II opened, Benedict XVI announced the year of the Faith.

The publication Civiltà Cattolica, whose drafts are reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State, declares that the profound crisis that has struck the Catholic Church in the last 50 years “has been a long time coming” and is “essentially a crisis of faith”, but the paper does not agree with the traditionalists’ idea that the Council and its openness to the modern world might be at the origin of such predicament. Moreover, the publication states that “ the Council has not exhausted its task, but rather has founded a method of evangelization which is old and new at the same time, as it calls for all Catholics to share in the responsibility of taking the Gospel to all men”.

Among the causes of the post-Conciliar crisis, Father Cattaneo includes also the media, “the unspoken alliance of the lay press and dissident Catholics” who “ contested the Magisterium’s authority and the concept of the Church’s authority itself”. A large section was dedicated to John Paul II ’s teachings concerning the Council. Another very interesting section was the one concerning Paul VI’s relationship with the Conciliar assemblies; he was “ a moderate liberal due to education and personal inclination”, but during the Council he ended up “displeasing the liberals” on matters of ecclesiastical celibacy and contraception.

The speech by pope Montini on the “Spring of the Church” was to be expected in post-Council times (when “ a cold winter descended instead”, says the Civiltà Cattolica) and it is not surprising considering the “wrong interpretation” of the Council that had started spreading at the time and considering “how some people, partly in earnest and partly not, had been taken by a post-Council euphoria, which led them to feel free to dispute the Magisterium of the Church and to tailor the Faith to the needs of the modern world”.

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