Why Vatican II?

One of the many peculiarities of contemporary Catholicism resides in the fact that so many people on the extreme left and extreme right of the Church are in basic agreement about the Second Vatican Council. In fundamental ways, they insist, Vatican II was a sharp break with the Catholic past. People on the left generally applaud that; people on the right deplore it. That it’s so is an item of faith for them all.
This surprising consensus among people otherwise often at one another’s throats deserves a fresh look as the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s announcement that he was convening Vatican II draws near. On January 25, 1959, Good Pope John shook up a small group of cardinals and others gathered at a Roman basilica by disclosing that he intended to call together the bishops of the world to do . . . what? There was no agreement then, and there’s surprisingly little now.
Start by dismissing the idea that the heart of the council’s achievement was to put the Mass in English, turn altars around so priests face the congregation, and let lay people distribute communion. These things may or may not have their roots in Vatican II (although you won’t find them in the council documents), but they’re small potatoes compared with the larger things at stake.
As it happens, John XXIII gave a clear account of those larger things when he opened Vatican II on October 11, 1962. To the extent that his talk is remembered at all today, it’s for his criticism of “prophets of gloom” in the Roman Curia. But he said much more than that. Specifically, he explained exactly why he’d called the council.
John XXIII began by insisting that the “great problem” of the modern world was rejection of Christ. Back in 1962, that was a reference to the spread of secularism then well underway in the West and to the rule of atheistic communism in the Soviet Union, China, and other areas of the world. Even then, furthermore, the farsighted pope may have discerned a resurgence of fundamentalist Islam taking shape just over the horizon.
So, in view of all this, why Vatican II? “The greatest concern of this ecumenical council,” he said, “is . . . that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously.” Here, after all, was the heart of the message Christ had entrusted to his followers to be spread. But to bring about that revival of evangelization, the structures and methods of the Church needed updating and renewal that would make them more effective tools. There you had it: aggiornamento for the sake of the Good News.
If you doubt this interpretation, go back and read what Pope John said. You’ll see it’s correct. Still, it isn’t good enough for people on the far left, who usually profess to be great admirers of John XXIII, or those on the far right, who, truth to tell, are leery of him even now.
For the ideologues of the right, Pope John’s council was a betrayal of the tradition on matters like freedom of conscience, ecumenism, and what it means to say Christ’s Church “subsists in” the Catholic Church. So, for that matter, were the changes in the liturgy that came after Vatican II, though these often seemed to have little to do with what the council itself said. One way or another, it added up to a sharp departure from centuries of Catholic faith and practice.
Although the far left wing of today’s Catholicism agrees that the council broke with the past, its position is more audacious and, perversely, more interesting than the view on the right. A crucial figure of the ecclesiastical left is the late Giuseppe Alberigo, a leader in the “Bologna school” of Vatican II interpreters and chief editor of a massive five-volume history of the council (published in the United States by Orbis) designed to shape understanding of the council for decades — even centuries — to come.
Alberigo sums it all up at the conclusion of his 2006 A Brief History of Vatican II (also from Orbis), a less scholarly, more impassioned, and generally more candid account of his intentions than the five-volume work. What’s really important about the council, he says, is not what it said and did, but the process it supposedly began. “In the long term,” he writes, “what characterizes the shift begun by the Council is the abandonment of the Counter-Reformation and the Constantinian age. This is necessarily a complex and gradual transition, and the Council’s contribution was to create a foundation for this and to signal its beginnings.” As for looking for the meaning of the council in the 16 documents that contain its teaching, that is “fatal to the image” of Vatican II.
But, as Alberigo knew perfectly well, that’s exactly where Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now better known as Pope Benedict XVI, has for years insisted on finding the meaning of the council. In doing so, Benedict XVI contrasts the hermeneutic of “rupture” — advocated by Alberigo and his colleagues — with the approach to Vatican II that he calls a hermeneutic of continuity.
It hardly needs saying that the fathers of the Second Vatican Council would have been horrified by the suggestion that they were cutting the Church loose from its roots in the Tradition. For them, the council’s teaching on even contested points — freedom of conscience is a good example — was a doctrinal development, not a break with the past. Pretty clearly, Benedict XVI has got Vatican II straight.
But 50 years after Pope John XXIII’s startling announcement, there are reasons for disappointment with the results of the council up to now — reasons that have nothing to do with complaints emanating from either the far left or the far right. Follow-through on the decisions of Vatican II has been disturbingly spotty and incomplete. In some matters, we may actually have fallen back. Here the council’s ecclesiology of communion — the vision of the Church as a body whose hierarchical structure coexists with a fundamental equality of all the members in dignity, rights, and mission — is especially relevant.
Consider this from the dogmatic constitution on the Church:
The laity should promptly accept in Christian obedience what is decided by the pastors . . . . The pastors . . . should recognize and promote the dignity and responsibility of the laity in the Church. They should willingly use their prudent advice and confidently assign duties to them . . . . They should give them the courage to undertake works on their own initiative . . . . Many benefits for the Church are to be expected from this familiar relationship between the laity and the pastors (Lumen Gentium, 37).
There may be local churches where that describes what really happens. There certainly are local churches where it doesn’t. Fifty years after Pope John XXIII said he was convening an ecumenical council to renew the Church for the work of evangelization, an enormous amount of work remains undone.

Russell Shaw

By

Russell Shaw is the author of Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church (Requiem Press), Nothing to Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church (Ignatius Press), and other works.

  • JC

    That was a great beginning. Is there more?

  • Augustine

    Yes, the article seems incomplete. Will there be more installments?

  • Kevin V.

    Firstly I don’t accept that there is a “right” or a “left” in the Church. Those are political terms and have nothing to do with the faith. In the Church there is orthodoxy and outside the Church there is heterodoxy. That’s the only dichotomy that matters.

    “”The greatest concern of this ecumenical council,” he said, “is . . . that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously”

    If this is the case, then Vatican II is a colossal failure and should be ignored.

    But why, if this is true, does nearly everything out of Rome for the past 40 years refer back to the council and no further? As if at the council there was a founding of a new religion?
    I don’t have to be a theologian to see what is obvious. If I walk into the run of the mill neighborhood parish I see one religion being practiced and taught.
    If I walk into my parish, run by the F.S.S.P., I see a completely different religion being practiced and taught.

  • Tim

    Kevin’s got a good point. And that’s not the fault of the documents of Vatican II. They’re squarely in line with Church tradition. But as far as the “dignity and responsibility of the laity” is concerned, I have to say I’m not impressed, at least with the lay leadership I’ve seen. Either there’s a lot of talk about the “rights” of the laity, as though the hierarchy were keeping them from us, or there’s talk about how the laity “preside” in the world, as though the hierarchy were barred from expressing Church teaching in the world.

    But to cap it off, the laity I’ve seen trying to take the leadership here are not up to the job. They don’t have a clear understanding of Church teaching in general; they only know what concerns them directly. And most have little or no regard (or knowledge about)for Church tradition, theological or liturgical, as the wellspring from which evangelization would take place. They’re too busying inventing new programs for that. And these programs haven’t produced much.

    Ever since Vatican II, Church membership has declined, even in the face of all these “innovative” ways of presenting Christ to the masses. And half the time, if they do present Christ, they leave the Church out entirely. Leaving evangelization up to the laity is a colossal mistake, at least with the preparation and under the aegis of the preparers they now have. If there is to be a true ecclesiology of communion, then the liturgy will have to be the starting point. That’s what gives the Church life in Christ, not a bunch of programs or strategies.

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    That was a great beginning. Is there more?

    Yes, the article seems incomplete. Will there be more installments?

    Music to our ears. Glad you all enjoyed the piece and yes, there will be more. Russell is a monthly columnist at Inside Catholic, so you can expect to see him further explore this subject (and others).

  • CC

    I think that with one blow the author has hit the wedge that causes much riff between the so called left and the right: the dismissal of the idea that the changes in the mass is small potatoes.

    To put it another way the intended or unintended change in the meaning of the mass from a Holy Sacrifice to nothing more than a meal/banquet should not be dismissed because without the Mass Christ is not physically present in the Tabernacle and without Christ what treasure can we possibly offer for the salvation of our souls?

  • Will

    I understand that I will be buried under an avalanche of corrections, but I am going to go ahead and say this anyway: changing the Mass from Latin to the Vernacular was a mistake. The Latin mass was beautiful, mysterious and made us different than the protestants with their drab services. Most prayerbooks had Latin on the left and English on the right, so you knew what the priest was saying. In fact, I actually learned a fair amount of Latin as an Altar Boy and still recall a lot of it, 50 years later! When the priest switched from Latin to English for the readings, you tended to pay attention [which is more than most people do today with the entire Mass in English]. In effect, we became Protestants, but with a Pope.
    I have read a hundred reasons over the years as to why this was done, but I am not convinced. For many years, the Pope would not allow any Latin Masses to be said, but Benedict has better sense and seems to be allowing Latin Masses, albiet not very many being said. They took this beautiful service away from us, and what did we get? I am sorry to rant here, but I believe that I am right and while he cannot publically say this, I would bet that Pope Benedict agrees.

  • nobody

    I reread this piece twice and I was still left with confused thoughts about how to feel about what I just read.

    Then Kevin wiped my computer screen with a cleaner and now I see what subconsciously I must have been thinking.

    And our U.S. Constitution is really no different in my mind. You

  • Sam

    No one has answered this very sincere question of mine. From the ancient liturgy to the 1962 saints calendar to the popular devotions, I don’t see one instance where there was something broken that needed to be fixed by the reforms we’ve seen — whether implemented correctly or not.

    A disclaimer — Due to family reasons, I worship in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite although once in awhile I attend the Extraordinary Form. I grew up with the Ordinary Form because I was born in 1968. I hold both Masses to be valid and while I believe the Extraordinary Form to be better liturgically, aesthetically, pedagogically, and spiritually, I also believe the Ordinary Form done according to the council’s directives can approach the Extraordinary Form in those areas.

    I agree with Kevin that so much of our chanceries and seminaries — even so-called “conservative” ones — simply ignore the 1900+ years of teaching prior to the Council as if it slipped down an Orwellian memory hole. They may not intend to communicate that message that pre-conciliar teaching is irrelevant, but their lack of speaking about it has the same effect.

    For example, when was the last time anyone heard about “the social reign of Christ the King”? If you look it up in Pope Pius XI’s encyclical “Quas Primas,” you will find such a doctrine (and many others besides in other rich documents before 1962), which can help in our current approach to how Catholics should engage the world. Finding such truth is rather bracing and liberating.

    Another disclaimer — I don’t doubt the HOly Spirit was at work during the Council. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be Catholic. However, I have to trust that God will lift the veil of my ignorance when/if I see Him face to face. You see, unlike the message sent at many Catholic funerals these days, I know that my salvation is not ultimately assured and that I need to rely on God’s mercy and grace everyday.

  • ed

    I agree with Will.

    Every Catholic should be taught Latin
    along with their native language.

    Our Hebrew cousins can do it.

    We should too. It would bind all Catholics to
    our history in Christ!

    By the way, I went to my first Latin Mass, (since I was a boy), last night!

    God Bless.

  • Ben

    Can’t say it any better than they did.

  • Sam

    I agree with Will.

    Every Catholic should be taught Latin
    along with their native language.

    Our Hebrew cousins can do it.

    God Bless.

    Amen! Latin should be our second language as Latin Rite Catholics.

    As a man married to a half-Greek, half-Italian woman (raised Catholic) whose Dad is Greek Orthodox, I would add that the Greeks learn a liturgical language. So do our Maronite brothers in the Catholic faith — they learn parts of the Mass in ancient Aramaic while saying the majority of the Mass in the vernacular.

    The language barrier argument is a false rationale for the vernacular. When I first attended the Extraordinary Form in 1997, I had a missal with Latin on one side and English on the other. The Latin-English missal helped a lot, and with a little self-discipline, anyone can pick it up after a few tries. It also helped that I had two years of mandatory Latin in high school and another voluntary year of Latin in college, but I repeat, one does not have to be a Latin scholar to follow along the Mass in Latin.

  • nobody

    The extremists on both the left and right have great devotions to a person, idea, object, and movement.

    The

  • Ken

    Name another council called at a high point in the Church’s history that resulted in chaos and destruction.

    Of course there were men (including, sadly, Fr. Ratzinger) who went into the council with a far left liturgical agenda. We are just now beginning to dig out of that mess with the restoration of the traditional Latin Mass and sacraments.

    Far from “small potatoes,” the Mass is what every Catholic sees. It is the face of the Church. When it was re-written by a reported freemason archbishop and four protestant clergymen, it was no surprise that the next 40 years would result in some of the worst years of the Church, including the papacy of John Paul II, who made the liturgy worse, not better.

    Thank God the Holy Ghost was around to help both John XXIII and Paul VI each deny a doctrinal status for the Second Vatican Council. A pastoral council can be ignored, if not erased. And not a moment too soon.

  • Will

    The Jews endured centuries of savage persecution and I think their preservation of the Hebrew Torah in no small measure helped. The Greek Orthodox endured centuries of persecution under the Muslim Ottomans, but clung to their faith, and still utilize Greek in their services, even in the United States. Latin united Catholics of all nationalities and languages. If I attended a Mass anywhere in the world, it would be in Latin, a very nice constant in this ever changing world.

    When we threw this overboard in the 1960’s we did not realize what we were losing. We threw away over 1900 years of history and tradition. For those of you who are too young to remember, a High Mass in Latin was pretty impressive, with singing in Latin by the Priest and others. The Mass is the center of our faith and this change was made like it meant nothing. Well, it does mean something. I wonder why the Traditionalists rolled over on this back at Vatican II? I wish they had stood firm.

  • Sam

    Mr Shaw,

    I did forget to thank you for your article, which on balance was excellent. One paragraph really rang true with me:

    “But 50 years after Pope John XXIII’s startling announcement, there are reasons for disappointment with the results of the council up to now — reasons that have nothing to do with complaints emanating from either the far left or the far right. Follow-through on the decisions of Vatican II has been disturbingly spotty and incomplete. In some matters, we may actually have fallen back. Here the council’s ecclesiology of communion — the vision of the Church as a body whose hierarchical structure coexists with a fundamental equality of all the members in dignity, rights, and mission — is especially relevant.”

    The communion ecclesiology of the Council was a splendid teaching indeed, and its truths need to fully realized and implemented. This is true not only within the Catholic Church, but also within daily family life. I can do a better job as a husband and father when I realize that I am in a communion of love with my wife and two kids, and not so much acting in a particular role or by myself as an individual.

    I also agree that follow-through on the Council’s written directives (as opposed to the so-called “spirit of Vatican II) has been spotty at best. I still long to see a Mass in the Ordinary Form as Vatican II’s document on the liturgy actually specified (Latin, Gregorian chant given pride of place, ad orientem, communion kneeling down at a rail, etc) as opposed to what we got.

  • Steve Skojec

    Start by dismissing the idea that the heart of the council’s achievement was to put the Mass in English, turn altars around so priests face the congregation, and let lay people distribute communion. These things may or may not have their roots in Vatican II (although you won’t find them in the council documents), but they’re small potatoes compared with the larger things at stake.

    Whatever your opinion of these changes, dismissing the relationship between Vatican II and their advent is untenable. Everything promulgated in the Pauline Rite has its roots in Sacrosanctum Concilium. It is no accident that Archbishop Bugnini was the principle author of both SC and the architect of the Novus Ordo Missae. It is demonstrative of a continuity of purpose.

    In terms of impact, it is also not hard to argue that these changes have had by far the most profound impact on the psychology of Catholic worship and thus the practice of the faithful. The change of posture from ad orientem to versus populum alone radically altered the anthropological understanding of Roman liturgy. It doesn’t take a trained liturgist to recognize that once the focus of attention is the countenance of the priest, rather than God’s altar, we have entered an entirely different worship experience. One young priest I know (who celebrates the Ordinary form) has told me that if he could change one thing to revitalize the faith, it would be to turn the priest back around.

    Others have made quite valid observations. The stated mission of guarding and teaching the sacred deposit of faith more effectively has clearly failed. One can’t help but wonder when reading this why, as Protestantism was growing across the post-Catholic world, the Church would want to abandon it’s counter-reformation?

    Vatican II does not contradict the traditions of the Church, but in some of its most important documents, the language is fast and loose, riddled with ambiguities which have been exploited by the Church’s own Jacobins. The way to best apply Vatican II is with the most conservative possible mindset, not taking every liberty it does not explicitly forbid and instead seeking to reconcile it with what came before it.

    As a former student of theology, I concur with those who mentioned that it seems to be treated as a starting point for Catholicism. I had to discover other councils, other encyclicals and other documents on my own. Imagine my shock when I read Pope John XXIII’s apostolic constitution Veterum Sapientiae, on the indispensable value of the Latin language in the life of the Church, its teachings, and its liturgy.

    There are deep riches in the past that must not be abandoned when trying to understand this council. The context of the world at the time in which it was held should also be taken into account.

  • Meeskee

    Leaving evangelization up to the laity is a colossal mistake, at least with the preparation and under the aegis of the preparers they now have. If there is to be a true ecclesiology of communion, then the liturgy will have to be the starting point. That’s what gives the Church life in Christ, not a bunch of programs or strategies.

    Thank you, Tim. This was well said. Recently, I listened to a priest give a homily about how our parish was going to renew itself and evangelize others. He described no fewer than TWENTY strategies and programs to accomplish this. By the way, these are the same programs that our parish has been trying to get moving for the past five years.

    I suspect, sadly, that our parish is no different than most parishes today. Our laity leaps at the opportunity to ‘play priest’, and we often have three or four eucharistic ministers (casually attired, no less) for a mass attendance of only eighty people. Our priest would rather focus on trying to manage twenty programs than demonstrate and explain why reverence is important at the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

  • Will

    Not only did we change the Mass from Latin to the vernacular, but we did a lot of expermintation: “Folk Masses” with folks singers singing irrelevent, boring folk songs during Mass, Rock Masses [I am not making this up], where a rock band blared loud “music” while the priest attempted to celebrate Mass, and of course, “Liturgical Dance” where insipid teenage girls in leotards pranced around the Altar to elevator music, while the older people in the congregation bit their tongues and shook their heads. Fortunately, most of this foolishness has gone away, but in retrospect, it makes you wonder how “traditional” Pope Paul VI really was. He may have been “traditional” on sexuality [which we hear so much about], but with respect to the Liturgy, I don’t believe that he was traditional at all. He allowed the Liturgical Radicals to run wild in the 1960’s and 1970’s and we are only now getting back on track under Pope Benedict, who I think understands what happened. Hopefully, we can soon regain most of the dignity of the Liturgy that we lost.

  • Angela Lessard

    I used to be annoyed that church documents only referred back to Vatican II documents. More recently, though, I’ve been annoyed that even orthodox Catholics only seem to go back to the documents of John Paul II, whom I loved more as a father than as a teacher.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church, I think, does not make either of these mistakes, God the Holy Spirit be praised.

  • Rosina San Paolo

    I am 85 years old and experienced the changes in the church up close and in a personal way. It was hard to see and bear the dissent that was brought about.
    After living the changes these many years, I saw a clear picture of the role of the laity as Vatican II envisioned it.

    Before Vatican II, as laity, we were the children and the priests and sisters were the teachers. It was a happy time. As technology and education increased, the laity became adults and were no longer to be treated as children but as partners with the clergy and religious. Once we called the bishop, Your Excellency. Now we call him, Bishop. We’re friends.

    I have had the privilege of working with three bishops in my pro-life work in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

    Hurrah! for Vatican II!!!!

  • Robert
  • Robert

    If the liturgical reforms of Vatican II weren’t a break with the past, why did they strip the churches of the altar rails, holy statues, paintings, chalices, and vestments? (Cromwell’s desecrations were a picnic in comparison with what the clergy did in the *Spirit of Vatican II*). The Church stripped its own altars.

    The pre-reform altar rail of the church I attend is lying in a cow pasture somewhere. I’ve seen church furniture for sale in trendy stores in chic gay neighborhoods. C’mon now – is “Eagle’s Wings” the best we can do?

    The fruit of Vatican II is self-evident my friend – mediocrity, blandness and confusion. The laity has been cheated. Vatican is clearly a break with the past.

    God help us.

  • Will

    I have some relatives who are Methodists [good people, I don’t mean to be critical], and over the years have attended weddings, funerals and occassional other services, and I couldn’t help but notice in the late 1960’s and 1970’s how we seemed to be getting more and more like them. The Liturgies were becoming more and more “Protestant”, the new churches built in the 1970’s very austere, almost Calvinist in appearance, and I wonder if some of our priests and bishops were “closet protestants.” John Paul, for all his “traditionalism” only corrected this to a small degree. I think Benedict has more perspective on this and is trying to bring back some things that we unfortunately threw away, such as the Latin Mass. Benedict may be our last European Pope, as so much of the growth of the Church has been in South America and Africa. This should not be a problem however, as sometimes the “Third World” clergy is more traditional than the European and North American clergy anyway.

  • Matthew A. Siekierski

    While I understand the grumbling of some people here, are you forgetting that it’s called the Latin Vulgate for a reason? The Bible translated into the “vulgar”, common, language…vernacular.

    While I deplore some of the liberties that have been taken with the Novus Ordo by certain priests, I think it a bit much to blame it on the translation to vernacular languages (although one could easily argue that the translation to English is pretty awful in spots).

    The problem isn’t with what was promulgated by the Second Vatican Council. The problem is that some priests (and bishops) went to extremes in their interpretation of Vatican II, justified things “in the spirit of Vatican II”, and weren’t called on it by their brother priests and bishops (nor by the laity…we’re to blame too.)

    If the intent of Vatican II was to ensure the teaching of the faith, it failed miserably in the following years. I was born in 1972, and what I learned of my faith in religious education classes was that Jesus loves me and glue is sticky. I was an altar server, and I didn’t know what sacramentals were. In an effort to make the faith more accessible to everyone, it seems that teaching children the basics was forgotten. The teachers already knew the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, why would it need to be taught to anyone? Stuff like that was just a part of “Tradition”, and not needed any more. And so it goes, and generations have now been brought up not knowing their faith.

    As I learn more and more things that are a part of our faith, I get frustrated because my parents knew what I learned at 35 when they were 12.

    The hope I see, though, is that there’s a hunger in many of us, a desire to rediscover the Traditions of our faith, to really understand what it means to be Catholic, and to live a fully authentic Catholic life to the best of our ability.

  • Will

    Matt, Yes, I am a grumbling old fart [born in 1951], an altar boy who assisted the priest saying the Latin Mass, so “guilty as charged.” I think you are correct, the intent of Vatican II was not to throw out all the good stuff, but the actual application did seem to work out that way. I think that we are headed in the right direction, unfortunately, it took us 40 years to get there.

  • Chris

    I used to be annoyed that church documents only referred back to Vatican II documents. More recently, though, I’ve been annoyed that even orthodox Catholics only seem to go back to the documents of John Paul II, whom I loved more as a father than as a teacher.

    Perhaps one key to understanding John Paul’s thoughts is to not only read his Encyclicals, exhortations, Letters, et.al. but also to dig in to the footnotes. Familiaris Consortio cites heavily from Humanae Vitae, which in turn cites Casti Connubii which in turn cites Arcanum Divinae. John Paul’s Chirograph on Sacred Music cites Pius X’s motu proprio, Tra Le Sollecitudini. Centesimus Annus cites Quadragesimo Anno and Rerum Novarum. Obviously, this is just a quick list and incomplete (don’t take my word for it; check the footnotes yourself). Nevertheless, in each case, John Paul brings the traditional teaching forward, cementing his own teaching in that of the Tradition.

    And incidentally, John Paul is very specific when speaking about sacred music:

    With regard to compositions of liturgical music, I make my own the “general rule” that St Pius X formulated in these words: “The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.”

    This is stuff of the Tradition. It is readily available. And it is easy for anyone to research it who wants to. The problem is not the Popes — not any of them, for similar histories could be drawn up for John XXIII and Paul VI as well.

    The problem is disobedience, which is more ancient than the Church.

  • Chris

    Sorry about the busted syntax. I’m getting my blog posting rules mixed up. Let’s try that paragraph again:

    Perhaps one key to understanding John Paul’s thoughts is to not only read his Encyclicals, exhortations, Letters, et.al. but also to dig in to the footnotes. Familiaris Consortio cites heavily from Humanae Vitae, which in turn cites Casti Connubii which in turn cites Arcanum Divinae. John Paul’s Chirograph on Sacred Music cites Pius X’s motu proprio, Tra Le Sollecitudini. Centesimus Annus cites Quadragesimo Anno and Rerum Novarum. Obviously, this is just a quick list and incomplete (don’t take my word for it; check the footnotes yourself). Nevertheless, in each case, John Paul brings the traditional teaching forward, cementing his own teaching in that of the Tradition.

  • Ken

    Rosina San Paolo — how is that equal partnership between clergy and laity working out for vocations in your area?

  • Bruce Roeder

    Thanks for the illuminating article!

    “..he intended to call together the bishops of the world to do . . . what? There was no agreement then, and there’s surprisingly little now.”

    I had previously thought that the three main reasons for calling the Second Vatican council were:

    1. To obey the Holy Spirit

  • Rosina San Paolo

    You asked how the equal partnership between clergy and laity is working out for vocations in our diocese. It is going well. Our Vocation Director has a healthy relationship with our laity and they work together in recruiting and supporting our seminarians.

    It was not Vatican II that threatened the church, rather, it regrouped to reach out to its members who were losing their faith through the influence of a secular society.

    Again, I say, Viva! Vatican II! Now let’s live it!

    Rosina

  • Anita

    I’m curious Rosina. How many ordinations to the priesthood do you have every year in your diocese?

  • Melissa

    Arguments for or against the Vatican II can have valid points. I went to High Masses when I was young, and watched (and avoided the changes) as I grew.

    The Church is a growing and evolving person, and as Jesus promised, guided by the Holy Spirit. Every living things goes through fire to reinforce good and weed out the bad, whether an individual, community, or Church. Vatican II recognized that the Holy Spirit works in everyone, Catholic and othewise, and this is good thing. I also miss many of the items that made the Church feel ‘truly’ Catholic. It is only in missing them, that I realized how I as an individual missed the only TRUE mainstay of the Mass, the Body of Christ in all its forms.

    Before Vatican II, people became so bored at Masses that they were engaged in private devotion, men went out to smoke and chat, children screamed, and very few people really understood or cared what was going on. It was enough to attend. Now that the Latin Mass has been withdrawn, and only now can we begin to understand what we are missing. That is not to say the council was wrong, only that the pendulum needs to swing one way before it can swing back; and it will swing back.

    If we continue to turn our backs to the changes that the Church makes in the Spirit of our Lord, are we any different than those that became ‘protest’ant reformers? If we do this, aren’t we exercising the very essence of what Vatican II gave to us to think freely within the confines of Church Doctrine? We either believe the Church has the right to move with the communities they serve, or we do not. Did God give the Church the right, through the work of the Apostles, to stay fluid to keep up with the sign of the times, or not?

    Be careful how you critisize before you find yourself in hypocrasy.

  • Rosina San Paolo

    You asked how many ordinations to the priesthood took place in our diocese, in reference to the working together of priests and laity in pursuing vocations to the priesthood. I have checked the statistics for our diocese and find the following figures: 1950 – ll: 1960 – 9: 1970 – 16: 1980 – 13: 1990 – 6: 2000 – 12.

    Rosina

  • No name Jane

    And

    Vatican II said this in it’s Constitution Dei Verbum:
    “Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.”

    Vatican II showed that traditions should be kept with loyalty.

    V2 is good.

  • Joe DeCarlo

    There were no legitimate reasons for Vatican II. The churches, seminaries, convents, and Catholic schools were full. There were long lines at confession. A cafeteria Catholic was almost non-existent. Pres. Obama could never had mustered 50% of the Catholic vote pre-Vatican II. The results of Vatican II were a disaster for the Catholic church. It was a success for the non-Catholic churches, because Vatican II placated them, especially with the liturgical changes. The Novus Ordo Missae is nothing but a Protestant service. There were 6 Protestant minister at Vatican II as “observers”. The Catholic church no longer adheres to the infallible doctrine, “no salvation outside the Catholic church.” They have come up with some mobo-jumbo about the church subsisting in the Church of God, or something like that. I can’t figure it out. Now, even other adherents to other religions can be saved. I guess the words of Jesus, “the only way to the Father is through me”, are no longer valid. Pope Francis I says that even atheists can be saved. I love the Catholic church, but it is difficult for me to take much more of this mush-mouth preaching. The church needs to get back to “fire and brimstone” sermons.

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