Vatican II

Continuity and Change

Continuity and change are complementary principles in the Catholic Church, just as they are generally. In a living entity, it's impossible to have one without the other. Continuity is a principle of identity. It's what keeps a person or thing the same person or thing in the face of passing time and shifting circumstance. Change [...]

The Chattering Classes Are Us

Catholics once had an intuitive understanding of sacred space: To enter a church, especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, was to enter a different kind of environment, one of the hallmarks of which was a reverent silence. Some of that intuition remains. But much of it has been lost. Thus, within the past [...]

Sunday Comics: Happy Epiphany!

Like the comic, I still think of Epiphany as January 6.  And yes, to me, the words "Ascension" and "Thursday" go together.  (Pretty funny, given that not only was I born after Vatican II, but I didn't even come into the Church until 1996!) I was just marveling earlier today that I perhaps am a [...]

Scourge Us

Lest there be any confusion, let me begin by admitting I am no liturgical expert. I have gone to some length to avoid becoming one, trying to shut controversies over the wording of the Mass out of my head while at prayer. As a convert from Anglicanism -- and very High Anglicanism at that, with [...]

Giving ad orientem a chance — with surprising results

Thanks to Father Z for putting me on to "Rev. Know-It-All" -- the nom-de-blog of Father Richard Simon of Skokie, IL -- and his recent thoughts on celebrating parts of the Mass ad orientem. He explains, first of all, why he wanted to try it: I did it as an experiment. I suspect that the [...]

Unicorns in the Toybox

A friend of mine, a cradle Catholic who doubts her faith, asked me what she should teach her four-year old about religion. "Everything," I said, "heaven, hell, God, angels, sin, grace, forgiveness, don't leave anything out." "How can I do that," she responded, "when I'm not sure myself?" Such attempts at parental honesty can leave [...]

Should We Tolerate Intolerance?

The 20th, worst of centuries -- if you reckon such things by as blunt an instrument as the number of civilians murdered by their own governments -- was bloodied by that deadliest of things: bad philosophy. The intellectual errors of previous centuries had festered slowly in thick French and German books, still restrained by the [...]

Ordinary Time

I am writing this on the Sunday still called Pentecost, on the very eve of "Ordinary Time." It is the great gift of post-Vatican II -- the desert that howls before us. I have been a Catholic now for six years, four months, and 23 days, and am still fumbling through what used to be [...]

The New Missal: Disaster or Opportunity?

Last week, the Holy See gave the formal recognitio, or official approval, to the new English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, the book that contains the prayers and rubrics of the Mass. The third edition of the Roman Missal was itself approved by Pope John Paul II in 2000.While the approval of [...]

Hiring and Firing Bishops

  Napoleon Bonaparte was a man who liked having things his way. To that end, you might say, he set about remaking the face of Europe. Another of the things he liked having his way was the Catholic Church, and to that end he set about remaking the hierarchy in France. In negotiating a concordat [...]

Open Windows: Why Vatican II Was Necessary

On the third day of the conclave -- October 28, 1958 -- the white smoke signaled to the crowd in St. Peter's Square the election of a new pope, Angelo Cardinal Roncalli, patriarch of Venice, who took the name of John XXIII. The Roman crowd was momentarily silenced; it could not put a face to [...]

The Paradox of the Neo-Catholic Traditionalist

Last week, I chronicled something of the bafflement that ensued as I was confronted with the weirdly malleable term "neo-Catholic." Judging from the combox discussion that followed, many readers share the tremendous confusion surrounding the term. Did it denote converts or those who loathe converts? Was it code for "neocon" or for non-neocon? Was it [...]

Vatican II and the Culture of Dissent

In this Crisis Magazine classic, Russell Shaw explains why Catholic dissenters got so far so fast in the years following the council.     The Second Vatican Council closed just over 40 years ago, on December 8, 1965. For most people, the postconciliar era had begun. But for me, that troubled time in recent Catholic [...]

The Pope of Unity

Sunday, April 19, 2009, marks the fourth anniversary of the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. Although he is now 82, a career theologian, and a former professor, Benedict's pontificate has been anything but dull. His decisions have brought joy to conservatives and consternation to liberals. He has inspired young people and the [...]

Why Catholics Don’t Read the Bible

A few years ago I wrote a book that was very pessimistic about the future of the Church in the United States. American Catholicism is a religion, I argued, in a state of probably irreversible decline. It is on the road, not to total disappearance exactly, but to a reduced state in which it will [...]

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 [...]

Progressive Catholicism Is Alive and Well

  Over the past few weeks, I've read lots of congratulatory backslapping over David Van Biema's piece in Time, "Is Liberal Catholicism Dead?" Let me offer some words of caution for my friends here at InsideCatholic and in the Church at large: Be very distrustful of the news of liberals you hear borne on the [...]

Reconsidering Vatican II

In May 1964, in the middle of the Second Vatican Council, I published a book, The Open Church, an optimistic assessment of the changes in the Catholic Church that I believed the council would produce. I had written it in white-hot haste in my room at the Pensione Baldoni in Rome during a six-week period [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

While a synod on the laity isn't as dramatic as a re-examination of Vatican II, this one is probably even more significant. So much of the absurdity and pain in the Catholic Church today stem from massive confusion over the role of the laity. One of the best statements on the role of the Catholic [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

Discourse about the new role of the laity easily assumes the grammar and rhetoric of rights, autonomy, and liberation. We hear about the right to dissent, the right to be a priest, freedom to be engaged with the world, the autonomy of Politics, and freedom of conscience. I would suggest that a theology of the [...]