Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Fruits of the Council and the Reform of the Reform

I am not exactly one of those who would like to excise Vatican II from the history books, but I long to see it properly implemented. Since the vast majority of the Bishops at Vatican II signed the Council documents we can take it for granted that they saw them as faithful to and continuous with the Deposit of Faith guarded over the centuries. As such, dissent from traditional doctrines such as ‘no’ to artificial contraception and ‘yes’ to the male-only priesthood and to the Catholic Church as the one means of salvation etc, is nothing to do with Vatican II. The only alternatives to the Bishops signing the documents if they saw them as discontinuous with the received Faith are that the Fathers were either too afraid to challenge them, too wicked to correct them, or too dim to understand them. We surely cannot hold to such alternatives.

Yet something has gone badly wrong since the Council. Its true fruits have not yet surfaced. Rather, dissent (which divides) is widespread, and dissenters include Bishops and priests as well as laity. Lapsation has gone from around 20% prior to the Council to around 75% since the Council; convents are closing and seminaries shutting down by the handful while Catholic marriages and families are becoming fewer. Only a fool or a renegade could see this erosion of Mass attendance, vocations and family life as good and healthy.

I thus wonder...In our necessary concern for those in need, have we clergy become more like social workers than doctors of souls? Have we become entertainers in the sacred liturgy by eradicating Latin and Gregorian Chant (in direct disobedience to Vatican II) while allowing the adoption of dances, dramas, puppets and comedic homilies in order to keep the people engaged? Have our laity come to see their mission to the world (wonderfully undertaken by the Legion of Mary, SVP, SPUC and ACN.) as inferior to being on committees and standing on the sanctuary, so that only work in the office, the lecture room or standing in the sanctuary are seen as ‘empowerment’? Have bishops and priests, by holding the same idea of empowerment, thus allowed the authentic lay vocation of being leaven in the world seem like disempowerment -or worse, as subservience? Perhaps. At any rate, the remedy is to recover the true reform; to bring ourselves back onto the road proposed by Vatican II. This is not about turning back, but about recovering our right direction. Surely only a fool, a stubborn man or a proud man would be unwilling to admit that a wrong turn has been made somewhere? And no one of sound mind or good heart could look at the condition of the Church today and see it as good and healthy, so it seems highly likely that we have taken a wrong road after the Council. Without doubt the Church has its healthy attributes: people are dedicated to charity and do want to take some responsibility for the life of the Church and her worship, but if a physician focuses on how wonderfully well one’s digestive tract is operating while allowing a failing heart to saturate the lungs with fluid, he is positively unhelpful to the person as a whole. Similarly, ignoring the wounds within certain aspects of the Church’s life is unhelpful to the Church as a whole. I pray that the reform of the reform to keep us in continuity with our past continues...


  1. Many good points FR we have indeed lost our way somewhere and whilst you point to many things that need urgent attention just where do the answers lie? Ultimately the Church is the people, and however steep a mountain has to be climbed they are the ones who have the ultimate remedy for all our ills... the power of Prayer. We need a restoration of true devotion through prayer many devotions that are deemed by some as old fashioned. Prayer and devotions always move the compassionate heart of God to His Church a heart that is also truly responsive to the intersession of Our Blessed Lady. Keep going collar the Lord is on your side Prayers assured.. teeshirt

    1. Thanks for your comment.
      Indeed the Church is the people, and that is all of us, from the Pope down to the most newly baptised infant. I think the answer is in us; that we should all strive to love and live what has been revealed, with our daily living reflected in solid devotional lives and the conviction of Faith. Sadly some do seem to think that the tried and tested devotions of yesteryear are simply passing fashions. Oh that we would value our past as the collector values the antique -which only grows more valuable with the passage of time...

  2. Hi Fr Gary
    Whilst I agree totally with your reading that Vatican II is not the problem but that the implementation & misreading of it is, I can't see how we are expected to reverse the situation easily. You point out the lapsation rate - quite rightly - but this has all happened since Vat2. Cause & effect seem to be the words to use. Not the cause & effect of Vat2 but the cause & effect of those who, probably deliberately & with a hidden agenda, led us down that path. The only sensible way forward (& it will be difficult if not impossible) is for the Pope to come out & demonstrate these falsehoods & to MAKE us return to the Truth. But will he? I am sceptical that Pope Francis will just go on as before Benedict XVI. He has (for me) demonstrated that rather than being traditional he too is a modernist. I pray that I might be proven wrong.

    1. Thanks for the comment, David.

      There may be some problems with the Council documents (some periti acknowledged they had written things that could be manipulated after the Council) the problem really is the implementation in that ambiguities in the text can only be authentically read in line with Traditional teaching.

      I think the popes have tried to tie the Council down without resorting to a new Syllabus of Errors style document, in that JP II gave us the Catechism and Benedict gave us the compendium. Sadly, where the ambiguous texts are simply repeated the problem remains, so a 'Syllabus' might be the way forward. Bishop Schneider called for such a document. I think it is impossible to place people in a box of traditional or Modern since most today are a mix of both, so whoever is Pope, we have to remember that ultimately the Lord is in charge and will bring about His desired end.


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