Sunday 15 July 2012

Pastoral Implementation of Vatican II, Yeah or Nay?

Mundabor has hit a nail on the head in a recent post:

“liberal [clerics] do not want to get that the V II “experiment” has been an utter catastrophe, because they do not want to admit their entire lives has been a contribution to this catastrophe.” read the whole article here.

Very few prelates, in or out of Rome, are going to find it easy to admit that Vatican II has been followed by damage to the Church, be that damage a result of that Council’s texts themselves or their implementation (I cannot say which). Two points spring to mind.

First, the Council can –and must- be read in harmony with Tradition. We are bound to this, because even if the Council were but a bend in the road, that bend cannot lead to any contradiction with the Church’s 2000 years of teaching.  Today’s Pope and bishops do not constitute the magisterium; they, together with the Popes and Bishops all the way back to the beginning, constitute the Magisterium. The sensus fidelium does not mean the prevailing opinion of the Church at a certain point in the time-line, but the opinions of all the Popes and Bishops from day one.

Second, we have to remember that we cannot be truly pastoral in the care of souls unless we are faithful to the Scriptures and 2000 years of magisterial teaching: dogma is the prescription; pastoral care is the administration of the prescription.  After all, the Gospels are surely ‘pastoral’, yet Our Lord was not afraid to say, “if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; better to lose one part of you than have your while body thrown into Hell” (Matt.5:30)  “Go, and sin no more” (Jn.8:11). For today’s Church it seems that  ‘pastoral’ means ‘saying nothing that upsets people’; nothing that makes them feel a healthy guilt for their infidelities to God (which we all need to feel, in that we are all sinners).

I was recently challenged by a senior cleric to inform my catechists that saying “To come to Mass is to meet Christ and come to heaven; not to come to Mass is to avoid meeting Christ and not come to heaven".  I was told by the same cleric to avoid speaking to my parish school about their decision to have their new library opened by the children’s character 'Winnie the Witch", which I felt presented the occult and evil in a benign way. If I was wrong about these two points, which is always possible, I think they are minor errors. By comparison, we have today, if I read a post on Catholic Church Conservation correctly, a Cardinal telling us that homosexual relationships might be consistent with the natural law:

ZEIT: From the Catholic Congress a statement is quoted that has given you a lot of trouble. You said about homosexual relationships: "I think it is conceivable that, where people take responsibility for each other, where they live in a stable homosexual relationship, that is to be regarded in a similar manner to heterosexual relationships," Do you stand by this?

[Cardinal] Woelki: "You must be careful not to mark down someone in an unfair way (literal translation of German- official English translation Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided) says the Catechism about people who have homosexual tendencies. If I take that seriously, I do not view in homosexual relationships "a violation of natural law" view, as expressed in the Catechism. I try to also perceive that as people they always assume responsibility for one another, loyalty to each other and have promised to provide, even though I cannot share such a life plan. The life plan for which we stand as the Catholic Church is a sacramental marriage between a man and a woman who is open to the transmission of life. This is what I said at the Catholic Congress in Mannheim immediately before the statement you quoted.

Is His Eminence suggesting Holy Mother Church was wrong for the last 2000 years? And if She was, how can we ever trust her? If the Cardinal is indeed making that suggestion then honestly, what chance have I or any of us for getting homosexual persons to live celibate lives? The problem is compounded when there are special Masses for such folk; Masses wherein they celebrate their diversity and pray for the Church’s acceptance of their irregular lives:

We can love and support such folk; we can welcome and value them without supporting or condoning spiritually harmful activities. Indeed we must welcome and value them. But ambiguous staments are very dispiriting, and diversity Masses pastorally confusing. I do wish Our Holy Father would take up Bishop Schneider’s suggestion of a new Syllabus of Errors -if we are to remain true to Tradition, how badly we need it.


  1. O how ludicrous. You seem very upset about homosexuality again. Perhaps it is touching a nerve, Father.

    1. Actually, the 'raw nerve' is that we are trying to present Catholicism according to the Catechism and the reported remarks of the Cardinal do not help. If you read the post again you will see that the core issue we are addressing is faithfulness to Tradition, not homosexuality. Homosexuality was simply the topic that the Cardinal was asked about and to which he reportedly responded somewhat ambiguously. We used his reported response because it seems to typify the failure of the Church’s members to be truly pastoral -many are pastorally sentimental (playing to feelings) rather than pastorally sensitive (applying Church teaching in a caring but faithful manner).

    2. I can see how you might have the impression homosexuality hits a raw nerve since the post uses this topic and we have only just posted on a pastoral problem concerning homosexuality. You might be interested to know that I have a much-loved cousin who has been in a same-sex relationship for over 25 years, and who has never expressed a feeling of being judged or devalued by me. It is because of my cousin that I can say homosexuals can be loved, valued and cared for without having to approve of their acts. So while I can see where you are coming from, please don’t presume this topic is a ‘raw nerve’ for someone you have never met and whose life situation you do not know.

  2. So father what prevents other bishops, priests or cardinals from following Bishop Schneider's lead? I had hoped and prayed that the theological discussions between Rome and the SSPX would perhaps lead to a clarification of exactly WHAT Vatican II authoritatively teaches. What prevents a new Syllabus from being issued? I do not for the life of me understand this. Must we wait until the generation formed by "The Council" as a "Super Dogma" has passed?

    1. I think Mundabor has given us one answer to your question: they cannot admit they have spent their lives perpetuating a catastrophe. Another reason may the work of the enemy who has blinded many. He abhors discipline in practice and clarity of doctrine because is work if the spreading of confusion and chaos. That is why I always assume the best intentions in people, who I presume sincerely do what they believe is w right for the Church, but get it wrong. We were told in seminary that “it’s not all black and white”, yet it is my belief that grey is the devil’s favourite colour -it allows us to fudge issues to our own tastes.

    2. Father,

      I believe you are on to something when you say, "they cannot admit they have spent their lives perpetuating a catastrophe. Another reason may the work of the enemy who has blinded many. He abhors discipline in practice and clarity of doctrine because is work if the spreading of confusion and chaos."

      I am 46 years old. I have known only the crisis in the Church. I grew up in chaos and confusion even though by the grace of GOD I was taught the fundamentals of my Catholic faith. I was angry for a long time that I did not have the grace of a "normal" Catholic childhood as generations had had. Instead my generation were an experiment of sort with the new post conciliar ideology....If one looks at the fruits of the past 40+ years they are dismal loss of faith being foremost. It would appear that "The Council as superdogma" has its' spell on the powers that be for the most part. It seems fundamental to healing to admit failure and I don't think most bishops will ever arrive at that point. The problem with the denial is the scandal to souls. Bishop Schneider ( a hero of mine) said it best, " .....There still is need for many prayers and perhaps for a new Saint Catherine of Siena for the other steps to be taken to heal the five wounds on the Church’s liturgical and mystical body and for God to be venerated in the liturgy with that love, that respect, that sense of the sublime that have always been the hallmark of the Church and of her teaching, especially in the Council of Trent, Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei, Vatican II in its Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and Pope Benedict XVI in his theology of the liturgy, in his liturgical magisterium, and in the Motu Proprio mentioned above."

  3. The other misrepresentation which frequently occurs is the statement that we must" read the signs of the times".

    Two often it is presented as though we have to CONFORM to modern practices, whereas the reality is that we must examine the signs of the times and, recognising what is false or mistaken in those practices, we should CONFRONT them with our Catholic Faith and Catholic Practice.


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